A research-based comparison of different modes of acne treatment
Treatment of acne is aimed at keeping oil and dirt out of the pores and reducing inflammation. To prevent permanent damage and visible scars on the skin, acne needs to be treated correctly and promptly. Most therapists summarize the key treatment objectives as follows:
Accordingly, in acne, treatment should be done to:
• Heal pimples
• Stop new pimples from forming
• Prevent scarring
• Help reduce the embarrassment of having acne.
Classification of acne treatment
Acne therapies or acne treatments fall into the following main categories:
- Medical (allopathic) drug treatment
- Surgical treatment (including laser)
- Photodynamic therapy
- Natural or alternative treatments (Homeopathy, Ayurvedic, Herbal, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, Yoga & others)
Medical drug treatment of acne
Based on its mode of administration (route which is used to take a specific medicine in your body), medical drug therapy for acne is of following types:
1- Oral drug treatment
Your doctor may recommend a course of antibiotic tablets (pills) for you to take by mouth which will be taken in combination with suitable topical treatment. Oral antibiotics help the inflamed spots of acne but have no effect on un-inflamed ones such as blackheads. They are only suitable for widespread acne because topical treatments may then be difficult to apply properly to all of the affected areas.
Antibiotics need to be taken for at least two months, and are usually continued until there is no further improvement. Common oral antibiotics used for acne include erythromycin & tetracycline. While the more common side effects of antibiotics are nausea and an upset stomach, other side effects are possible: yeast infections (for women), recurring headaches, and sensitivity to the sun. It is also a generally accepted fact that people who take antibiotics frequently will, at a later time, no longer experience relief because the antibiotics are no longer working. There are also certain strains of bacteria that resist antibiotics.
Oral contraceptives (hormones)
Hormonal treatments are also available. They are recommended for adult women who show signs of androgen excess, have irregular menstrual periods or who have thinning hair. Types of hormonal treatments that are prescribed are birth control pills (with equal amounts of estrogen and progesterone in small doses) and corticosteroid pills. Like other treatments, people may experience side effects with hormonal treatments.
The most effective of such treatments contain a hormone blocker (for example cyproterone), which reduces the amount of oil the skin produces. However, these may take up to four months before they start to work and have their own side effects.
2- Topical drug treatment
Topical treatments are those that are applied directly to the skin (locally). These include a variety of active anti-acne ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, nicotinamide, antibiotics, azelaic acid, and retinoids. Topical treatments are usually recommended for people with mild to moderate acne. They should be applied to the whole of the affected area and not just to the spots themselves. Topical medications and oral antibiotics may be used alone or together. A topical medication might be an antibiotic lotion or gel (Clindamycin, Erythromycin, Tetracycline, Doxycycline or Minocycline) or a liquid or cream containing Benzoyl Peroxide or Retin A.
One of the commonly used topical anti-acne medications is Benzoyl Peroxide:
Benzoyl peroxide can be obtained over-the-counter (Clearasil being the most common, although there are other brands in the market today) or by prescription (Persagel and others). Benzoyl peroxide gets to work on acne-aggravating bacteria that are on the surface of the skin. Side effects such as irritation or redness may occur and there is also a risk of allergy or skin irritation as a result of the continued use.
Surgical treatment of acne
Surgery or other procedures can help improve the appearance of skin scarred by acne. Acne surgery involves making an incision into the affected area and draining the clogged matter. The process for blackheads and whiteheads doesn’t actually involve surgery, but is often performed by a nurse, esthetician or dermatologist. A small, pointed blade is used to first open the comedone and then gently work the material out using a comedone extractor.
Following types of surgery are used by cosmetic surgeons or dermatologists to help treat acne or prevent its complications such as scarring:
- Excisional surgery
- Chemical peeling
Photodynamic treatment of acne
Photodynamic therapy is a new acne treatment. It begins with light microdermabrasion. This is used to remove dead skin cells on the face’s surface. Then, an acid is put on the skin for 30 to 60 minutes. After this period, the acid is taken off. Lastly, the skin is treated with a laser. This treatment is still being researched and is currently very expensive.
Natural or alternative acne treatments
There have been few studies examining the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. Professional homeopaths, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for acne based on their knowledge and clinical experience.
Belladonna: For people who experience flushes of heat to the face or who have inflamed pustular acne that improves with cold applications
Calendula: For skin conditions involving pustules or blisters
Hepar sulphur: For painful, pus-filled acne
Kali bromatum: For deep acne, especially on the forehead, in persons who are chilled and nervous
Silicea: For pustules or pit-forming acne
Ayurvedic medicine may help improve acne symptoms, although further studies are needed. In one study, a combination of ginger (zingiber officinale), Holarrhena antidysenterica, and Embelia ribes reduced the number of inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions in acne. In another study, combined oral and topical use of Aloe barbadensis, Azardirachta indica, turmeric (Curcuma longa), Hemidesmus indicus, Terminalia chebula, Terminalia arjuna, and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera ) also reduced the number of lesions.
Hydrotherapy or hydrotherapeutics is sometimes referred to as hydropathy. It is said to incorporate the use of the “healing powers” of water. Its use dates back to as early as 2400 BC. Many practitioners of ‘hydrotherapy’ feel water has significant curative properties and that, unlike other medicinal agents, is not harmful nor potentially toxic and, therefore, can be effectively used to treat acne. Possible hydrotherapy remedies to treat or heal acne lesions and scars include:
- Applying ice to skin sores
- Soaking in ocean water
- Quickly rubbing the body (not the face) with a cold, damp washcloth
The light, heat and color of vibrant rainbow waves create effective vibration not only in human but animal tissues (especially skin) as well. Therapists usually use a combination of Green and Blue color, creating a typical “Turquoise-Blue”. This color energizes skin tissues and is the best cure for burnt skin from sunlight and itching. It creates tightness in shrunk and skin full of wrinkles, pimples and pustules and which becomes the cause of attraction in your personality.
However, the full effectiveness of color therapy and its usefulness in acne treatment is still under research and a topic of debate. Also, it is not easy to find an expert color therapist who could specifically target acne affected skin and tissues and will treat them all successfully.
When acne is caused by stress, you may find that yoga; massages and relaxation techniques can help control the problem. Yoga helps to keep the channels of the body open to help move toxins out. Yoga brings blood and oxygen to the skin in more efficient ways than any other exercise. However, no single study has so far demonstrated that Yoga, alone, can be effective against any type of acne. Like other forms of alternative treatment, Yoga requires a lot of time, dedication, practice, regularity and punctuality to be fully effective. Also, many believe that Yoga has more benefit in helping one in “prevention”, rather “treatment” of acne.
According to Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture principles, acne is a skin condition associated with an abundance of heat in the body. Depending on the severity and duration of the condition, it is associated with dysfunction of the Lung, Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestine and Heart channels. Wind-heat, damp-heat, phlegm and stagnation are the primary factors involved in its development. Acupuncture treatment for acne is based on specific needling and can be successful only if applied correctly, i.e. by using a combined approach of local channel-based and systemic zangfu-based treatment.
The question of allergies and side effects triggered by prescription medicine is one of the important reasons why people prefer herbal treatments over topical medications in acne. While certain topical skin therapies may temporarily eliminate acne, there is always the possibility that the medication can cause mild to severe allergies. Therefore, dermatologists, skin experts and naturopaths firmly believe that one of the most effective ways to control or cure acne is by using herbal topical treatments such as acne lotions, acne creams, and gels that are applied on the skin. Some of such complete and safe acne treatment solutions include Exposed Skin Care, ZenMed & ClearPores. All of these acne supplements are scientifically formulated with a blend of other antioxidants and skin nutrients, as well as soothing botanicals and skin-sloughers. Each of the components of these complete acne care systems comprises of a mixture of the natural plants’ oils having biologically active ingredients,), minerals, the microencapsulated vitamins A, B3 and E, and all natural biological active ingredients. Therefore, because of their high safety profile, favourable patient compliance and affordable prices, these treatments clearly emerge as superior and safe way of treating and curing acne.
In a comprehensive survey of acne products, in which we examined which treatments on the market today answer the following three criteria:
- Contains the chemical compounds (treatment ingredient) known to medicine today and proven to prevent and cure acne.
- Contains natural compounds known for their efficacy as natural cures for acne and as compounds that soothe the skin and give it a clean and fresh appearance.
- Received the highest rating in the user reviews that we gathered.
We found that the product that is most efficient and most recommended for treating acne is: Exposed Skin Care