New options exist for treating acne
A variety of skin treatments is now available.
Anyone who suffers from acne knows that among the various over-the-counter and physician-prescribed treatments, there are very different options to help clear skin. And just how well skin responds can often feel like a game of hit or miss.
One proven method to initially clear severe acne breakouts is to fight acne-causing bacteria with oral and topical antibiotics. Until recently, prescribed oral antibiotics were broad-spectrum, designed to treat a myriad of bacterial infections. There is now a new option: A once-daily oral treatment for moderate to severe acne for sufferers age 12 and older has been approved by the FDA. Solodyn, by Medicis Pharmaceuticals, is effective for treating most acne conditions, except those that are nodular.
Solodyn contains minocycline, a member of the tetracycline family, and acts by killing the acne-causing bacteria whose interaction with sebum (the oil naturally produced by the body) results in acne lesions of the skin. The low-dose action of Solodyn is not interchangeable with the action of other antibiotics or forms of minocycline, and Solodyn dosage is determined by weight, not age, therefore dosing is more accurate. Those who take Solodyn are less likely to ingest more antibiotics than necessary to clear up acne and keep it under control. Solodyn is available by prescription only and recommended in a 12-week course. See your dermatologist to see if Solodyn is right for you.
Acne is not only a physical problem; it has emotional side effects as well. Unfortunately, once severe acne clears, the scars left behind can be highly disfiguring, and deeply affect self-esteem. The most common forms of acne scars include "ice pick" scars, scars that resemble chicken pox scars, and rolling scars that give the skin a wavy appearance. Acne-scarred skin is visibly damaged, and it also has damage below the skin's surface including reduced collagen, irregularly structured dermal tissue and a lack of elasticity.
Deep acne scars have traditionally been treated by fully ablating the skin -- removing the upper layers and allowing new skin to form. This is a surgical procedure with many weeks of recovery time and a host of potential risks including significant pigment changes. Resurfacing is not recommended for all skin types.
Today, acne sufferers with fair to dark skin types who have hoped for something equally effective yet far less invasive than ablative resurfacing now have an option: fractional resurfacing. Fraxel SR, which made its debut in early 2005 as a treatment for fine lines and wrinkles, is the first ever treatment to receive FDA approval specifically for the treatment of acne scarring. This unique laser resurfaces the skin over multiple treatments creating microscopic thermal wounds, rather than completely ablating (removing) the epidermis like traditional laser resurfacing. The Fraxel action to treat acne scars is twofold: resurfacing the skin texture to improve and in some cases erase the visible acne scarring, and to stimulate collagen production deep within the dermis to repair structural damage and promote stronger, more elastic skin.
Fraxel treatment is performed by plastic surgeons and dermatologists. It requires a topical numbing cream and sometimes an oral sedative. The 30-minute laser treatment is part of a 60 to 90 minute office appointment. Visible improvement is seen after the third of five to six treatments, spaced two to four weeks apart. The procedure requires downtime, as you may have redness and swelling for a few days after treatment that can easily be camouflaged with cosmetics, whereas traditional laser resurfacing requires weeks for open facial wounds to heal.