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Do you have stubborn acne that is not going away despite of using natural remedies and taking proper care? You need help of a dermatologist who can treat your acne with proper medication.

Adult acne is one of the most frequent skin diseases, affecting up to 80 percent of people at some point in life [1]. Though the acne doesn’t pose any serious health hazards, it can still lead to serious esthetic and self-image concerns.

The available options for adult acne treatment include natural solutions, home remedies, medical options, and finally surgical options. Choosing the most suitable solution is always a dilemma.

It is always good to try some harmless natural solutions if you have mild to moderate acne. However, if your skin doesn’t respond to these natural acne treatments at home or your acne gets worse, you should always seek the help of a certified dermatologist.

If your acne is severe — the cystic or nodular type  don’t even try adult acne treatment using cosmetics and other products as it can lead to irritation, aggravation, and allergies [2]. See a dermatologist instead.

A dermatologist can offer various treatment options, ranging from medical to surgical ones. Medical options include both topical and oral medications of different types. Chemical peeling, laser treatments, light treatments, and microdermabrasion all fall under the category of surgical acne treatments. However, medical treatments are cheaper and used more often.

The practice of using medicines on your own, without the prescription of a registered dermatologist, can be harmful to your skin. Always get the advice of a dermatologist who will work out the best medical treatment option for you as not every drug is appropriate for every skin and acne type.

Medical treatments offer effective solutions for all kinds of acne, though it will still take some time before you will notice visible improvements to your skin. There are many drugs that can help.

1. Topical Salicylic Acid

Topical salicylic acid, though a non-prescription topical treatment for acne, is also prescribed by dermatologists to treat mild to moderate acne. Salicylic acid is mostly available in the form of pads for topical application that significantly reduce your acne lesions if used regularly. [3]

Salicylic acids pads are available in different concentrations. Your dermatologist chooses the best-suited concentration for you.

2. Topical Antibiotics

Topical antibiotics are widely used in the treatment of acne. These are either the in form of a cream or a lotion. Commonly used antibiotics for topical preparations include clindamycin, erythromycin, and azithromycin. These antibiotics inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria. [4]

This treatment requires the consistent application of medicine for at least one month. These topical antibiotics are also used for maintenance therapy after oral treatment ends. Recently, cases of antibiotic resistance have emerged.

3. Topical Benzoyl Peroxide

Topical benzoyl peroxide is a new drug and highly effective drug for acne. It is proving to be a better choice than both salicylic acid and antibiotics due to its superior results and the fact that it does not lead to microbial resistance. [5]

Benzoyl Peroxide is directly toxic to bacteria, and this prevents the resistance that develops due to changes in chromosomal structure and enzymes which antibiotics generally target. It is a good option to treat moderate acne.

4. Topical Retinoids

Isotretinoin is the strongest option for topical acne treatment. It is a synthetic form of vitamin A and is very effective for treating moderate acne. [4] Retinoids are available in cream and gel forms and are now considered as the first line topical treatment. Dermatologists prescribe retinoids alone or in combination with oral medicines. Retinoids should only be used at night as using them in sunlight can lead to skin irritation.

You should use this drug with care as it has the ability to cause excessive dryness and dermatitis. So don’t apply a large amount and always follow the instructions of your doctor while using it.

5. Oral Antibiotics

Oral antibiotics can be used alone or in combination with topical agents to treat moderate to severe adult acne. These act by killing acne-causing bacteria. Commonly used oral antibiotics are tetracycline, doxycycline, erythromycin, azithromycin, and minocycline. Tetracycline is the first choice, followed by erythromycin. [6]

The duration of treatment varies according to the severity of your adult acne and the type of antibiotic being used. It generally varies from one month to three months. There is also evidence of resistance against frequently used antibiotics. Bacteria make changes in the chromosomes and enzymes targeted by the antibiotics to dodge the killing effect.

6. Oral Hormonal Drugs

Dermatologists prescribe these drugs to patients with symptoms of hormonal imbalance like excessive facial or body hair in females, excessive sebum production, and alopecia. Excessive hormones like androgens cause high sebum production, comedone formation, and inflammation that lead to acne. The hormonal drugs decrease the level of such harmful hormones. These drugs include hormones like oral contraceptives, spironolactone, flutamide, and Cyproterone acetate. [7]

These drugs act by correcting your hormonal imbalance and the duration of use varies according to the severity of the disease and the hormone being used. Hormonal drugs are mainly prescribed to women.

7. Oral Retinoids

Retinoids are a popular drug class for the treatment of acne. They are a synthetic form of vitamin A and work by acting on sebaceous glands to decrease sebum production. Isotretinoin is the most commonly used retinoid and it is generally known as Accutane. Isotretinoin is highly effective in treating severe acne and the dose is calculated according to your body weight. [8]

You should never use retinoids without a medical prescription because of side effects attached to them.

Teratogenicity is the most dangerous side effect and sexually active women are supposed to use a strong contraceptive cover if they have to use it. Also, doctors advise them to avoid conception for a few months even after treatment ends.

Medical treatments are an effective option for curing acne. Your dermatologist decides the correct dose, combination, and type of medication for you. Self-medication is always discouraged because of its potential side effects.