Good skincare is the foundation of any effective regimen for acne treatment. Boise dermatologist Dr. Naomi Brooks educates her patients about finding gentle products that can fit every individual's skin type and lifestyle.
The goal of any acne treatment is to calm acne flare-ups and prevent new breakouts. Controlling acne takes time and patience. During treatment, damaged skin layers will grow out and inflammation will decrease over a period of six to eight weeks. A well-balanced combination of treatments can target different steps to prevent new acne formation.
Topical treatments are the first line of defense, especially for mild acne cases. Moderate acne typically responds better to a combination of oral and topical treatments. Dr. Brooks aims to use oral medication to initially control flare-ups, then switch to topicals for longer-term prevention.
Topical treatments can help prevent clogged pores and pimples. Options include:
Oral antibiotics are prescribed when acne is more widespread or when topicals alone have failed. Oral antibiotics work by decreasing bacteria and reducing inflammation from large red pimples, pustules, and deeper-set painful nodules. They are always used in combination with topical products to minimize the risk of bacterial resistance, and for the patient to transition easily off the antibiotics to a long-term topical treatment.
Examples of such oral antibiotic acne treatments include minocycline, doxycycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.
Hormonal treatments are used as an additional treatment option for women. Combination birth control pills can be used in teens and adult women in conjunction with antibiotics, or may serve as an alternative treatment with topical medications to maintain long term control of acne.
These pills are FDA-approved for acne treatment, and work by decreasing the hormonal signals to skin receptors. They are also strongly recommended in combination with isotretinoin therapy.
Spironolactone also works to block hormone receptors and can work well in adult women with hormonal acne.
Isotretinoin is used for severe acne that is cystic, scarring, or not responding well to conventional treatments. While it can be a very effective acne treatment, it requires a sound understanding of the side effects and precautions. Taking the treatment requires monthly office visits for about five to six months. Patients at Boise Dermatology are registered in the iPLEDGE program, which provides education and monitoring of the medication's safety.
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Intralesional corticosteroid therapy involves a small injection into a painful deep acne nodule to shrink the inflammation over a period of a few days. This is used as a temporary acne treatment for the quick relief of one to five problematic lesions.
Acne treatment is a gradual process. As a patient at Boise Dermatology, you will be evaluated every three months until your acne is controlled. Sometimes, the treatment process involves switching to different products to find the right combination for your skin.
It is important to keep up with the daily acne treatment requirements your dermatologist prescribes. Some topical treatments can temporarily irritate the skin, but the skin will typically adapt and tolerate the medication after a few weeks. We can provide advice to minimize the irritant or find the right product for very sensitive skin.
Avoid irritating the skin during acne treatment. Stick to gentle cleansers and mild, fragrance-free moisturizers. Avoid abrasive facial scrubs, toners, astringents, or masks that can irritate the skin and make it less tolerant of the prescribed medications.
Makeup should be noncomedogenic or oil free. Light powders and mineral makeup that don't require scrubbing to remove are preferred.
As most acne treatments can make you more sensitive to the sun, avoid excessive sun exposure and use a noncomedogenic sunscreen daily. Sunburns can further inflame acne and make topicals too painful to use.
Once the acne is under control, it is important to continue a daily maintenance routine to prevent further breakouts.
Dr. Brooks strives to educate Boise residents about the causes, symptoms, and types of acne. There are acne treatment options during pregnancy that she details clearly with the patient before starting any medications, as many acne treatments are not safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.