Acne is defined as a chronic inflammatory skin disease of the sebaceous glands that most commonly occurs in adolescence and is characterized by the eruption of pustules on the face, neck and upper trunk. In layman’s language, it is defined as a skin disease in which pimples erupt on the face, neck, chest and back.
There are various treatment modalities for acne ranging from natural-based products, pharmaceutical products and even laser acne treatment.
Natural acne treatment products include aloe vera creams, nutmeg extracts, cinnamon powder, honey, avocado oils, orange peel extracts, groundnut oils, turmeric powder, neem leaf extracts, fresh lime juice, tomato pulp, etc. All these serve as natural remedies when applied on the pimples or pustules of acne.
There is a wide range of pharmaceutical products for acne treatment and a combination of several products is recommended to reduce the severity of acne. These are usually readily available over-the-counter and include:
Topical bactericidals are readily available over-the-counter(OTC). Products containing benzoyl peroxide may be used in the treatment of mild to moderate acne and may include gels or creams that are applied twice daily over the affected area. Benzoyl peroxide acts as a keratolytic agent(breaks down the keratin blocking the pores) as well as kills the bacterium P.acnes which is the commonest causative agent of acne. Cases of resistance are rare. Bar soaps or washes with benzoyl peroxide concentrations ranging from 2-10% are also readily available. Reduction in acne lesions takes approximately six weeks with benzoyl peroxide-based products. However, patients should take care when using benzoyl peroxide since it has bleaching effects on hair or fabric.
Topical antibiotics that are used to treat acne include erythromycin, tetracycline or clindamycin and they act by killing the in the blocked pores.
These include erythromycin and tetracycline antibiotics such as tetracycline, doxycycline, oxytetracycline, lymecycline or minocycline. Resistance to these antibiotics is very common. Side effects of tetracyclines include yellowing of teeth and killing of the normal flora of the gut. These are only recommended when use of topical antibiotics has been ruled out.
Hormonal treatments can be used for females and include the combined oral contraceptive pill or the antiandrogen cyproterone.
These include tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene. Their effect on the follicle cell life cycle helps prevent hyperkeratinization which can lead to blockage.
Professional treatment methods for acne include:
Dermabrasion wherebysun-damaged and scarred epidermis is removed by abrasion so as to lessens scars and spots.
Phototherapy which employs the use of red and blue light to treat mild to moderate acne.
Subcision which is used in the treatment of deep scars that are due to acne or other skin conditions.
Photodynamic therapy that involves the use of intense violet/blue light in order to reduce the severity of acne.
Laser treatment to reduce the scars formed due to acne and also to prevent the occurrence of acne through killing the causative bacteria, destroying the follicle sac or destroying the sebaceous glands from which acne arises.
Patients do vary, and therefore, it is recommended that patients visit a healthcare professional so as to be advised which treatment method best suits them.
It is also an excellent idea to start out with the natural methods then to the pharmaceutical methods and finally to the more sophisticated methods such as laser treatment or photodynamic therapy.
The treatment method is also influenced by the patient’s socio-economic status as some methods such as laser treatment and photodynamic therapy can be very costly to a majority of patients. The healthcare provider should consider this before prescribing any treatment for the patient.
The best approach to acne treatment is individual-based care whereby treatment is conducted in tandem with the patient’s needs and requirements since the condition usually varies from one patient to another.
Psychotherapy should also be incorporated into the treatment as acne is in most cases associated with low self-esteem especially among adolescent patients. The healthcare provider should constantly reassure the patient that the treatment will be successful and also encourage the client to be patient with the treatment since it might take quite some time. All in all, a combination of various treatment methods is bound to yield the best results.