There are, however, several acne control methods that will reduce the appearance of this unsightly skin disease. Acne, more specifically Acne Vulgaris, is an inflammatory disease of the skin, often occurring during the pubescent years. Most of these treatments control the acne by reducing the occurrence of clogged pores (when debris and oil clog a hair follicle in the skin) and by killing the bacteria living within these clogged pores. These acne control treatments that include exfoliation, topical bactericides, Accutane, and light therapy, will be discussed later.
Perhaps the most common method of acne control is regular exfoliation of the skin. This simply means the removal of dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin, which prevents them from falling into pores where they may stick and become blackheads. Exfoliation as means of acne control can be done either physically or chemically. Physical exfoliation requires the use of an abrasive material, such as acne “scrubs,” which is available at many drug stores, or some sort of abrasive cloth. These work on a microscopic level to remove skin cells but often do lead to visible flaking of the skin. Also, along this same idea is the use of chemical exfoliating agents, such as salicylic and glycolic acid, which encourage the peeling of the skin. This can, however, lead to dry and flaking skin when the acne-control product used is too harsh. Exfoliating products are readily available over the counter and are usually relatively inexpensive, especially when generic brands are used.
Other systems of acne control readily available over the counter, though stronger variants are available through prescription, are topical bactericides. The most common of these is benzoyl peroxide. These bactericides work by actively attacking the bacteria responsible for acne, and they do so effectively. In fact, there have been no noted strains of acne bacteria resistant to the bleach-like properties of benzoyl peroxide. These properties do, however, have the negative effect, as do many methods of acne control, of generating patches of dryness and redness on the skin. These side effects can generally be avoided by using a low concentration of these bactericides and also using a moisturizer that will not clog pores (any comedogenic moisturizer would simply be counterproductive). The effectiveness of this acne control treatment, when combined with how easily the side effects are treated, makes topical bactericides highly popular.
A very popular alternative method of acne control, often used when over-the-counter remedies fail is the prescription drug Accutane. The active drug in Accutane, isotretonoin, works by modifying a certain gene, resulting in decreased size and secretion of the sebaceous glands (the oil-secreting glands on the skin). By reducing the amount of oil produced, Accutane controls acne by providing a less sticky lining on the pores, so dead skin and dirt are less likely to stick and clog the pore. Like all prescription acne-control treatments, there is the risk of several side effects, mostly resulting from the decreased production of sebum from the skin. Accutane is a very effective means of acne control and has high success in treating severe cases of acne.
A very recent innovation in the field of acne control is the use of light to treat outbreaks. The bacteria, that causes acne, absorbs certain wavelengths of light, creating free radicals. These radicals are highly reactive and destroy the bacteria on a molecular level, leading to a greatly reduced recurrence of breakouts.