There are many treatments available for acne, including nonprescription drugs and prescription.
What counter treatments are there?
Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are prescription medicines more effective for acne. These drugs kill bacteria, dry up the oil and cause the skin to peel. They are available in many forms such as gels, lotions, creams, soaps or pads. Note that it may take up to 8 weeks before you notice an improvement in skin appearance. If an OTC product for acne does not seem to help after 2 months, talk with your doctor.
In some people, the counter medications for acne can cause side effects such as skin irritation, burning or redness. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that are severe or do not disappear over time.
What happens with prescription drugs?
If the counter medications are not effective, your doctor may prescribe a cream or gel with retinoid. Retinoids, such as tretinoin and adapalene, usually applied to the skin once a day. Be sure not to apply near the eyes, mouth and nose area below.
If you are using a retinoid, you must avoid the sun or use a strong sunscreen because this medicine increases your risk of sunburn. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not use a retinoid called tazarotene because it can cause birth defects.
If your acne is severe, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat it. Antibiotics such as minocycline, doxycycline and tetracycline reduce bacteria and inflammation, and can be used in combination with other acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide. Antibiotics can be taken by mouth or used on the skin as a lotion, cream or gel.
What is isotretinoin?
Isotretinoin is a drug used to treat very serious cases of acne. This is usually used for acne that did not improve after treatment with other drugs. It is important to take isotretinoin in the right way.You should also know the side effects of isotretinoin. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about this medicine or you have side effects when taken.
Before taking isotretinoin, tell your doctor if you or any family members have diabetes, asthma, liver disease, heart disease or depression. You should also tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medicines, especially parabens (chemicals used in cosmetics, moisturizers and isotretinoin). Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, even if it is a nonprescription medicine.
How should I use and store isotretinoin?
Isotretinoin was prescribed only for you. Do not share it with other people, and keep it away from children. There is no need to store the medicine in the refrigerator, but keep it out of sunlight. Do not store in extremely hot.
Also, you can not donate blood while taking this medicine or for at least 1 month after you stop taking it. Nor should it be used for cosmetic procedures to smooth the skin (like waxing) while taking isotretinoin and for at least 6 months after you stop taking it.
Isotretinoin is like vitamin A, so that, while taking isotretinoin, you should not take vitamin A pills or multivitamins containing vitamin A. You also should not take any antibiotic without talking to your doctor.
What should I expect during treatment?
The dosage of isotretinoin is different for each person. During your treatment, your doctor may change your dosage. Be sure to take isotretinoin just the way your doctor tells you. If you miss a dose, take an extra dose the next time. Isotretinoin is likely to take over a period of 15 to 20 weeks.
Your acne may worsen when you first start using isotretinoin. Usually this only lasts a short time. If this happens, your doctor may ask you to use other medicines with isotretinoin at this stage.
Your doctor should check you often. Be sure to attend all appointments you have with your doctor. You may examine your cholesterol levels and liver.
Does isotretinoin have any side effects?
During treatment, you may have some side effects listed below.Usually, these side effects go away when you stop taking isotretinoin:
- Dry skin and lips, your doctor may suggest lotions or creams to use.
- Fragile skin (which is easily damaged), itching or rash.
- Increased sensitivity to the sun (the sun burns easily).
- Peeling skin on the palms and soles.
- Thinning hair.
- Dry eyes and red, you may not be able to wear contact lenses during treatment.
- Bleeding from the gums.
- Vision problems such as reduced night vision.
Some people have even more serious side effects. If these problems go untreated, may last even after you stop taking isotretinoin. If you have any side effects listed below, stop taking isotretinoin and call your doctor immediately.
- Headaches, nausea, vomiting or blurred vision.
- Depression or changes in mood, feelings of sadness or irritability.
- Unusual tiredness or poor appetite.
- Severe stomach pain, diarrhea or rectal bleeding.
- Very dry eyes.
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes, and dark yellow urine.
What should I expect after treatment?
The skin may continue to improve even after you stop taking isotretinoin. Most side effects disappear a few days or weeks after you stop taking isotretinoin. If the side effects last longer than a few weeks after you stop taking this medicine, talk to your doctor.
Your acne does not improve the first time you use isotretinoin for a period of 15 to 20 weeks. If you have to take isotretinoin, you can start taking 8 to 10 weeks after the end of their first treatment. Do not donate blood for at least 1 month after stopping isotretinoin.
Are there special concerns for girls and women?
You should not take isotretinoin if you are pregnant. Isotretinoin causes severe birth defects, including malformations of the head and face, mental retardation and severe internal defects of the brain, heart, glands and nervous system. It may also cause spontaneous abortion, premature birth or stillbirth.
To prevent pregnancy, you must use 2 forms of birth control simultaneously for at least 1 month before taking isotretinoin and for as long as you are taking this medicine. Keep using 2 forms of contraception for 1 month after stopping isotretinoin.
Your doctor will make sure you are not pregnant before you start taking isotretinoin. Control back every month when you take it. You will be asked to read and sign a consent form to show you understand the dangers of birth defects and agree to use 2 methods of contraception. If your period is late, stop taking isotretinoin and call your doctor immediately.
Does acne causes scars?
Acne, especially cystic acne can cause scarring in some people. You can help reduce scarring avoiding tightened or pick your brands. Also, avoid scrubbing your skin. If you are scars, treatments are available to help reduce scarring.