Acne sufferers today can choose from an array of products and regimens designed for acne skin care, both in prescription and over-the-counter preparations. Whether you are a teenager with typical hormone-driven breakouts, or are battling acne as an adult, you should be able to find a skin care treatment that gives you relief.
Acne skin care products target the problem of acne with several different strategies—some work by reducing the production of the oil glands, others by killing the P. acnes bacteria that cause the acne eruption, and others reduce the build-up of dead skin cells that leads to clogged pores. Several popular skin care products perform more than one of these functions.
The oldest commercial acne skin care treatment, and still one of the most widely available, is Benzoyl Peroxide. Sold in gels, creams, and washes, Benzoyl Peroxide fights acne by killing the P. acnes bacterium on the surface of the skin. It also has a drying and peeling effect, which may help reduce the severity of acne.
Users report that Benzoyl Peroxide can take four to six weeks of constant use to achieve full effect, but that it is a powerful tool in acne skin care when used faithfully. It can be found in commercial acne skin care products, such as Oxy 5 and Clearasil, but is also available in prescription strength.
Antibiotics are another common treatment used in acne skin care. Like Benzoyl Peroxide, they target the P. acnes bacterium, and can be found in gels and creams, but are usually administered as an oral medication. Common antibiotics used for acne treatment are Erythromycin, Clindamycin, and Tetracycline. Another aspect of antibiotic use in acne skin care is their anti-inflammatory effect, which reduces the redness and swelling of acne eruptions that have already occurred.
Additionally, Sodium Sulfacetamide and Azelaic Acid are prescribed to fight P. acnes bacteria, although neither are antibiotics.
Azelaic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Resorcinol, sulphur, and Adapalene are products that approach acne skin care with the intent to reduce clogged pores by peeling or sloughing off dead skins cells. Salicylic Acid is found in over-the-counter acne care products, such as Stridex, as are Resorcinol and sulphur.
While most acne skin care treatments in this group target the surface of the skin, Adapalene, a prescription-only medication, reduces the build-up of dead skin cells inside the pore itself. Also a prescription-only skin care product, Azelaic Acid has the added benefit of killing P. acnes bacteria.
To reduce oil production, there are two common acne skin care treatments: oral contraceptives, and Isotretinoin (Accutane). Of the two, Accutane, a vitamin A derivative, has the most severe side-effects, which include a high risk of birth defects, and is used for severe cases when other acne skin care regimens have failed.
Oral contraceptives work as an acne treatment because they are anti-androgens—they reduce levels of male hormones, specifically testosterone. Increased oil production in women has been linked to elevated levels of testosterone. Not all birth control pills work in the same manner, and the progestins used in some actually act like androgens, so be sure to inform your doctor if you wish your oral contraceptive to serve the dual purpose of acne skin care.
Every acne skin care product available today has side effects, some of them quite severe. Always consult your doctor or dermatologist, and read carefully all labels and warnings before beginning an acne skin care regimen.
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