7 Antibiotic Alternatives for Adult Acne


Acne is a large skin care concern in the United States, particularly in adults. While estheticians are able to treat and prevent a large spectrum of acne, many adults with severe acne often have to see a dermatologist for prescription antibiotics. However, according to Alicia Cool, M.D., of Advanced Dermatology, "Oral antibiotics, which have been used successfully for years, have become less effective as the bacteria that cause acne have become resistant to the drugs."

There are other products and treatment protocols that are effective in treating adult acne when antibiotics do not work, according to Cool.These are outlined below, and many can be utilized by the esthetician to help clients improve their acne and keep it from coming back.

1. Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide

Products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide tackle bacteria and clear pores and may be effective for mild acne consisting of whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. It may take 4-8 weeks of use to see noticeable improvement. There are also prescription-strength products containing these ingredients.

2. Retinoids

Creams, gels or lotions containing retinoids, which are derivatives of vitamin A, work to unplug pores and shed dead skin cells. Gels containing dapsone help fight inflammation. These are often used in combination.

3. Isotretinoin

Isotretinoin, a powerful oral medication, reduces oil production and is effective against the most severe acne but, because of the risk of serious side effects, its use must be monitored carefully and it cannot be taken by pregnant women.

4. Birth Control

Women with acne can be helped by birth control pills, which regulate the hormonal activity that produces excess oil.

5. Low-dose Antibiotics

Low-dose antibiotics, also called sub-antimicrobial doses, retain antibiotic anti-inflammatory properties but at doses too low to kill bacteria or promote resistance.

6. Chemical Peel and Microdermabrasion

Chemical peels and micro-dermabrasion remove the outer layer of skin and are used primarily to reduce acne scarring.

7. Laser and Light

Laser and light therapies show promise for killing bacteria and reducing oil production by shrinking the sebaceous glands.

Cool concluded, "Untreated acne in adults can cause permanent scarring as well as emotional distress. There is no magic bullet that will cure acne and not every treatment will work for every individual but with a combination of therapies and an understanding that the process will take time, virtually every case of acne can be controlled."

Alicia Cool, M.D., F.A.A.D.  is a board-certified dermatologist, specializing in all areas of medical dermatology, skin cancer prevention and treatment and cosmetic dermatology. She practices at Advanced Dermatology P.C. www.advanceddermatologypc.com

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