As a Dermatologist in private practice for several years, it breaks my heart every time I see a young girl or boy with scars due to acne. The scars undermine their self confidence and self esteem and sometimes also reduce their performance in life (academics and work). I often see many teenagers and young adults with severe acne, very often under treated for fear of side effects of medications. What one forgets is that the side effects of not treating the pimples i.e. the scars are much more disastrous and have a lasting impact on the individual.
I prefer to treat acne early and aggressively as this gives one the best chance of a scar free face. Acne is not a simple problem, it can be quite a tricky issue and needs a detailed assessment of the individuals skin type, the kind of pimples, the lifestyle being followed and the skin care routine. Some people may also need to get some blood tests and ultrasound to rule out an underlying hormone imbalance.
Based upon all the above the management may include one or more of the following.
Cleanser: depending upon the extent of oiliness of the face and the other medication which is going to be given, we may recommend either a pH neutral cleanser or a salicylic acid based cleanser to be used 2 times a day. Cleansing should be done with either lukewarm water or cold water. Hot water should be avoided. Frequent cleansing of the face should also be avoided.
Medicated Creams: Depending upon the type of pimples, we may prescribe some medicated creams. Most people usually get a cream to be used overnight which unplugs the acne and helps it drain out freely on the skin surface. In addition, we may prescribe an antibiotic cream to be used during the day if one has red, angry looking pimples.
Tablets: Oral antibiotics may be used with benefit in some people. They need to be used over a long duration to be effective. They are usually a safe option with very few side effects. Some people may get prescribed hormonal supplements especially if they have a hormonal imbalance. Another very commonly used medication is a synthetic analogue of Vitamin A. This is a very effective medication but may have some side effects and hence needs to be used cautiously and under medical supervision. For the right candidate, this is the most effective medication to reduce the chances of scars.
Chemical peels: We usually combine them with other acne treatments like medicated creams or tablets to drain out the pimples early and minimize the chances of scarring.
LASER: We use the Intense Pulsed Light. This is very effective in killing the bacteria responsible for pimples. It is also very effective in people who have some redness after the acne has cleared.
These are the various skin treatment options. We usually combine these with lifestyle advise for optimal benefit. To summaries, Get your acne treated early and effectively to reduce the chances of scars and the pain associated with a scarred face.