Medical treatment for acne vulgaris is often recommended by doctors and dermatologists for moderate to severe cases of acne. If you just have mild acne, the best treatment is usually home acne treatment such as washing with a mild soap and having a healthy diet. The diet should include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and less processed and sugary foods.
Medical treatment for acne vulgaris can take several forms. The first stage is to try applying certain topical treatments. You can try each of these in turn for a month to six weeks. If the acne improves, continue. If not, move on to the next option.
1. Benzoyl Peroxide
This can dry up acne vulgaris for many people. Products containing benzoyl peroxide include Brevoxyl and Benzac.
2. Salicylic Acid
This is another option which many people find helps their acne. Products containing salicylic acid include Propa pH and Stridex.
Aspirin is a derivative of salicylic acid and that is why some people treat pimples at home with soluble aspirin dissolved in a few drops of water to make a paste. However, it is more convenient to buy a commercial acne treatment. It looks pretty weird walking around with white aspirin paste on your face!
If neither benzoyl peroxide nor salicylic acid works for you, you will need to have a prescription medication.
3. Topical Antibiotics
The first step for a medical practitioner is often to prescribe antibiotic creams, gels or lotions which are applied directly to the pimples. These are for external use only.
4. Oral Antibiotics
In some cases you may be prescribed a course of oral antibiotics that you take internally. This treatment often helps acne scars to heal so it is more likely to be used where the acne is deep or is producing scarring.
If you take oral antibiotics, be sure to follow up with a course of probiotics afterward. You can buy probiotics from any health food store. This repopulates the healthy bacteria in the stomach. These can be killed off by antibiotics and the result can be an overgrowth of candida, leading to yeast infections.
If you think that you already have an overgrowth of candida, it is better not to take antibiotics for your acne but treat the candidiasis first. You may find that acne improves or even disappears when the yeast is under control. Candidiasis is not so likely to be a problem for teenagers, but is sometimes involved in adult acne.
5. Prescription Retinoids
Retinoids are related to vitamin A and they have many applications in medicine, one of which is treating acne. As with antibiotics, you can get topical retinoids in the form of creams or gels which are applied directly to pimples (e.g. Retin-A, Differin, Tazorac). Retinoids can irritate the skin so in some cases the acne gets worse before it gets better.
There are also oral retinoids that you take internally, such as Accutane. These usually take several months to have an effect. Oral retinoids should only be taken under medical supervision. There can be side effects and overdose is dangerous. Women taking retinoids must not get pregnant because they can cause birth defects, so oral retinoids are more likely to be prescribed for men as a medical treatment for acne vulgaris.