Acne Treatment and Medications 101: The Ultimate Guide
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, and there are plenty of acne treatments available—but not all of these treatments are created equally. It’s important to find a clear skin regimen and treatment plan that incorporates natural acne-fighting ingredients—cue BioClarity.
Our acne treatment solution is clinically supported and naturally-derived. You deserve clear skin, and we’re here to help you get it. BioClarity offers plant-based skincare solutions that are gentle on the skin and easy to use.
- 1 Looking for an effective acne treatment?
- 2 Diagnosis: The First Step in Acne Treatment
- 3 How Severe is Your Acne?
- 4 Treating Moderate and Severe Acne
- 5 Can Birth Control Treat Acne?
- 6 Treating Acne Scars
- 7 6 Acne Myths You Should Stop Believing
- 8 Acne Treatment FAQ
- 9 Key Takeaways
Looking for an effective acne treatment?
Learn how BioClarity treats acne and cultivates a clear, radiant complexion with our comprehensive guide to acne treatment.
Diagnosis: The First Step in Acne Treatment
Understanding how to treat acne starts with understanding acne itself, and the first part of any acne treatment plan is diagnosis.
In order to determine the best type of acne treatment for your skin, it’s important to understand how severe your acne is. If you’re dealing with mild acne and your skin exhibits only occasional breakouts, you may be able to accurately self-diagnose and treat your skin with the right products and acne treatment routine.
However, if any of the following warning signs are present, it’s essential to make an appointment with a skin care professional or dermatologist as soon as possible:
Reaching an Acne Diagnosis
During a skin care consultation, a doctor or licensed skin care professional will perform a physical exam, and may ask you questions about your medical history, past breakouts, and current acne flare-ups. Women will be asked about their menstrual cycles to help determine whether hormones are having a significant impact on their breakouts.
Certain symptoms and observations made during this exam may indicate underlying health issues that require different treatment plans. If this is the case, a doctor or dermatologist may run a series of tests to rule out any diseases and illnesses that could be causing any skin ailments.
Diseases and Illnesses that Can Make Acne Worse
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the result of significant shifts in a woman’s hormones. This shift can cause an increase in androgen production. This surge in androgen levels can overwhelm estrogen levels, triggering the body to begin producing more sebum—the sticky, oily substance that clogs pores. This hormonal imbalance can result in painful cysts, period changes, infertility issues, heart disease, diabetes, and skin conditions like acne. One research study performed purported that 27 percent of all women struggling with acne also were diagnosed with PCOS. Those with PCOS are more prone to inflammation, which can worsen the severity of acne.
- Adrenal Hyperplasia – While rare, those with this condition can also often suffer from severe cases of acne. Those with congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia experience an accumulation of adrenal steroid precursors and disrupt the metabolic rate of androgens. This increase in androgens may result in excess sebum, which catalyzes the formation of acne.
Classifying Acne Severity
If your dermatologist does diagnose you with Acne Vulgaris—the medical name for common acne—they may categorize your acne into a certain grade of severity.
- Grade I: This is the mildest grade of acne. Those with Grade I acne may have clogged comedones (whiteheads and blackheads) and/or small pimples. There is minimal inflammation in Grade I cases of acne, meaning your pimples likely don’t hurt or take on a red appearance.
- Grade II: This acne grade features moderate acne breakouts. If you have Grade II acne, you likely have a higher number of blackheads and whiteheads—along with a higher number of pimples. Breakouts are more frequent than Grade I acne, and you may develop papules and pustules—pimples infected with bacteria.
- Grade III: Patients diagnosed with Grade III acne likely suffer from a higher rates of inflammation, leaving the skin tender and often painful to the touch. Individuals with Grade III acne likely have a higher number of papules and pustules on the face, and they may also develop nodules—thick, painful pimples rooted deep within the skin.
- Grade IV: This is the most severe of all acne grades, and individuals with severe acne will exhibit a large number of papules, pustule, nodules, and pus-filled cysts. Severe acne can be found in different areas of the body, including the back and chest. This type of acne is the most likely to cause permanent skin damage in the form of scarring and disfiguration if treated improperly.
How Severe is Your Acne?
How to Treat Acne – Treating Mild Acne
Mild acne is common, and luckily, responds well to proper treatment—so long as you’re using the right product for your skin. The BioClarity Clear Skin System is a proven method for treating mild acne, but what is it about our formula that makes it such an effective treatment option? Powerful ingredients. BioClarity combines the power of two main ingredients: Salicylic acid and Floralux.
Salicylic Acid for Acne Treatment
Salicylic acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid and has proven to be one of the most effective acne treatments—and a safer option than benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid vs benzoyl peroxide has long been a hot topic in the treatment of acne, but research has shown that salicylic acid offers effective acne-fighting properties without damaging the skin—unlike benzoyl peroxide. It features keratolytic properties, meaning it dissolves keratin, making it an ideal exfoliating ingredient.
Salicylic acid is chemically comparable to aspirin, and can help reduce redness and calm inflammation as pores open up and clear out. When salicylic acid is applied to the skin, it can help break down the fatty compounds found in sebum that can cause pores to clog. The Clear Skin System uses the highest allowable concentration of salicylic acid to ensure effective treatment for acne. This pimple treatment works on plugged comedones by sloughing off dead skin cells and clearing pores.
Chlorophyll has long been used to cleanse and calm the skin, but we’re proud to be the first acne treatment that harnesses the power of chlorophyll to soothe away painful blemishes. Our Floralux® complex tackles redness, fights P. Acnes bacteria, and provides the skin with rejuvenating nutrients.
We replace the magnesium at the core of chlorophyll molecules with healing copper to create powerful Floralux. Because your skin requires copper to perform at its optimal level, your cells rapidly absorb Floralux—allowing important nutrients to access the deepest layers of your skin for effective treatment.
Restore your skin with Floralux® and harness the power of green.
Other Ingredients Used to Treat Acne
Other acne treatments use a variety of ingredients, but these acne-fighting formulas may cause irritation. Your doctor may recommend avoiding the following ingredients while treating your mild acne.
- Sulfur – Sulfur has been used in treating acne for thousands of years, and in the 1950s, it became available in a foam product designed for direct application to the skin. Can sulfur work on acne? Sulfur dries out the skin, consequently drying out and shrinking pimples. It tends to be gentler than benzoyl peroxide treatments, and is less likely to dehydrate the skin, which would result in further irritation. However, sulfur can work against you in the same manner; thanks to its high pH balance, sulfur can damage your skin’s protective barrier, resulting in dehydration and creating a bacteria-friendly environment.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids – AHAs are designed to prevent pore clogging and are commonly used in conjunction with topical treatments. Alpha Hydroxy acids serve as a gentle exfoliator, and can increase the effectiveness of other products. However, alpha hydroxy acids can increase sun sensitivity, and may cause inflammation and scarring if used incorrectly.
- Benzoyl Peroxide – Benzoyl peroxide is used commonly in over the counter treatments for acne, but higher percentages of this ingredient can result in dryness, peeling, and other skin irritation. Depending on acne severity, Benzoyl Peroxide is used in varied concentrations: 2.5%, 5%, and 10%. It’s recommended that patients avoid using Benzoyl Peroxide in conjunction with acne medication, as this can cause excess dryness, which can further irritate acne caused by dry skin.
Putting Acne Treatment to Use
In most cases of mild acne, there are three things to look for in an acne treatment: gentle yet powerful acne fighting ingredients, nourishing extracts, and an easy-to-use system.
Created by nature and powered by science, BioClarity is a new, naturally better way to treat acne and banish blemishes. The innovative three-step system combines the most effective over-the-counter acne medication with nourishing, natural extracts, such as chamomile, oat kernel, green tea, licorice root, cucumber, and salicylic acid, to cleanse, soothe and restore skin.
These ingredients result in safer, more effective acne treatment and acne medication, allowing the skin to heal and regenerate from acne lesions—without the worry of harmful side effects many chemical treatments can render on the skin.
Treating Moderate and Severe Acne
As moderate acne and severe acne cases are harder to control and treat than mild acne, prescriptions may be required to conquer breakouts.
Topical Acne Treatments
Doctors will often prescribe topical prescription medications for certain acne cases. There are a variety of prescription treatments available, including topical and oral medications.
- Topical Retinoid – Topical retinoids are used in anti-aging efforts, and can speed up the rate of cell regeneration, helping your skin slough off the dead skin cells. In some patients, retinoids can also serve as an anti-inflammatory agent, but they have been known to cause irritation when first used.
- Topical Antibiotics – If you suffer from harsh, inflammatory breakouts, a doctor will likely prescribe topical antibiotics. This is a pimple medicine designed to help reduce P. acnes bacteria that causes inflamed, infected acne lesions. Some studies have purported that use of these antibiotics has made bacteria more resistant to treatment, and it may be that these treatments are less effective than they were in the past.
- Combination Medications – Combination medications are exactly what they sound like—acne medications that harness the power of two acne-fighting ingredients in one bottle. These are generally made up of topical retinoid or benzoyl peroxide treatments, along with topical antibiotics.
If topical treatments are ineffective, doctors may prescribe oral medications for acne. These can help treat acne breakouts and other skin conditions, but they come with their fair share of potential side effects and consequences.
- Oral Antibiotics – Oral antibiotics are designed to kill the acne-causing bacteria found within your skin pores. The most common oral antibiotics prescribed for acne treatment are Tetracyclines, which include Minocycline and Doxycycline, and Erthromycin. Like their topical antibiotics counterparts, bacterial resistance may result in ineffectiveness of this treatment regimen so overuse is to be avoided.
- Isotretinoin – Usually only used in severe cases of acne, Isotretinoin is a form of vitamin A designed to reduce the amount of sebum produced by the skin’s oil glands and help the skin renew itself at a faster rate. Isotretinoin has become a bit infamous (under its common name Accutane) after reports of mental health issues and serious medical side effects as a result of this medication hit the media.
- Spironolactone – This type of oral medication is only useful and appropriate for acne cases in adult women. Spironolactone is not designed for acne treatment, but has proven to clear the skin after long-term use. This acne medicine is actually meant to treat conditions that result from too much aldosterone by preventing the body from absorbing too much salt and regulating potassium levels.
While these prescription acne treatments can be an important component of banishing your blemishes, you can’t beat your breakouts without a daily routine. Half the battle is prevention, and BioClarity’s unique formula is proven to provide results within weeks.
Can Birth Control Treat Acne?
Many women have found birth control to be a great treatment for their acne flare-ups, and dermatologists often prescribe new birth control pills to women looking to alleviate acne lesions. There have been multiple clinical trials that have found certain birth control pills can decrease the frequency of acne breakouts, decrease the amount of pimples present on the skin, and lessen inflammation.
While the last decade has seen an onslaught of new birth control pills and products, according to WebMD, there are currently only three pills that have been approved by the FDA for acne treatment:
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen
These three types of pill are considered combination oral contraceptives, which means they contain both progesterone and estrogen. Combining progesterone and estrogen hormones can lower the amount of androgens in the body. Androgens are a group of hormones that contain high levels of testosterone, and are responsible for the production of sebum. As androgen levels decrease, the amount of sebum produced does as well. Decreased rates of sebum production can help keep pores unclogged and lessen the incidence of acne. For many women, contraceptive pills are taken in conjunction with topical acne treatments like BioClarity.
What About Birth Control That Only Contains Progesterone?
In contrast, contraceptives that only contain progesterone can actually cause the development of pimples or worsen a pre-existing acne condition. Using particular birth control pills can also result in serious side effects and consequences, including a heightened risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clotting. Other serious complications that may occur include high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, migraines, and mental health issues including depression so it’s important to talk to a doctor about any issues that arise after beginning a contraceptive medication.
While birth control may help treat acne, it’s important to keep up with your daily skin regimen. Because birth control may cause significant hormonal fluctuations, use a gentle acne treatment like BioClarity that’s easy on the skin—but still effective at fighting P. Acnes bacteria.
Treating Acne Scars
Acne scars are a common consequence of this skin condition; almost 95 percent of acne patients will develop some degree of scarring. Luckily, there are many new treatments available to help patients minimize these skin blemishes and rid the skin of acne scarring.
- Dermal Injections – Dermal injections have become a popular way to treat and alleviate shallow acne scars. There are many dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons performing these injections, and there’s been a significant increase in the number and quality of filler substances used to help decrease the appearance of scars. Dermal fillers may also stimulate the production of collagen, to help smooth the skin even further. While these injections have immediate effect, they also are only temporary, and last around three to 12 months after injection.
- Subcision – Subcision is a minimal surgery during which a dermatologist undermines the acne scar with a sharp instrument, like a scalpel or small hypodermic needle. This helps break down fibrous bands found in scar tissue, effectively cutting the tension between the outer and lower layers of the skin that causes skin indentation. This procedure is also known as subcutaneous incisional surgery.
- Chemical Peels – Chemical peels may be performed at home, with an esthetician, or with a dermatologist, and are one of the most common treatments used for getting rid of acne scars. The peel is in fact an application of gentle acid on the surface of the skin. The higher the acidity level, the further the peel goes into the skin. Chemical peels allow the underlying layer of skin cells to rise, effectively ridding the skin of acne scars.
- Punch Grafts – Punch grafts are often used to help alleviate the appearance of ice pick acne scars. These types of acne blemishes are characterized by irregular, jagged borders. Dermatologists can excise these scars with a sutured closure. It joins the separated portions of the dermis, ridding the skin of margins and closing a former gaping hole into a fine line. If a slight incision scar is left over, resurfacing procedures may be performed to even further lessen its appearance.
- Laser Treatments – Laser treatments are non-invasive procedures, making them a popular choice for those looking to get rid of acne scars. It’s a quick procedure (performed in a series of sessions) with minimal discomfort and minimal healing time. Laser treatment works by shooting out pulses of intense light that penetrate the skin’s layers. This stimulates collagen production, increases the rate of cell renewal and helps tighten up the skin. There are four general types of laser acne treatment: fractional laser treatment, carbon dioxide laser treatment, erbium laser treatment, and pixilation. A licensed professional can help you determine which type of treatment is best suited to your skin.
- Dermabrasion – Dermabrasion used to be one of the most popular acne scar treatment procedures, but the advent of new technology and strategies has made it somewhat less popular. In dermabrasion procedures, the skin is numbed, frozen, and exposed to a sharp, rotating blade that gently sands off the top layer of the skin’s surface.
- Prevention – The best acne scar treatment? Prevention. Using natural, gentle acne treatments like BioClarity can help your skin retain moisture—while still getting rid of those painful pimples.
Remember that effective acne treatment is a marathon, not a sprint. Some believe that quick fixes found in their medicine cabinet are viable options, wondering to themselves: “Can hydrogen peroxide cure acne?” or “Does sulfur make acne better?” In most cases like these, the answer is no. These solutions are short-lived, and can result in worsened breakouts.
Consistent care with a product like BioClarity could make your skin more vibrant than ever before—in just a few weeks’ time. Learn how our treatment works to prevent blemishes and stop scars before they form.
If you want to learn more about preventing severe acne from leaving permanent marks, read our guide to treating and preventing acne scars.
6 Acne Myths You Should Stop Believing
While it’s important to understand what causes acne, it’s also important to understand the things that don’t affect your acne—no matter what you’ve been told. As acne is so common, there are plenty of theories about the causes and treatments of this skin condition—which has led to a variety of acne myths.
Eating Chocolate Causes Acne – There may be a connection between diet and the prevalence of skin blemishes and pimples, but chocolate has gotten a bad rap with no significant studies supporting this anti-cocoa conjecture, so this association might be unfair.
Wearing Makeup Causes Pimples – Makeup products don’t clog up pores and cause pimples, as acne is caused by sebum production that comes from within the skin. While makeup doesn’t necessarily cause pimples, there are products to avoid and much to be said about washing off cosmetics before working out and prior to going to bed.
Sun Exposure Can Clear Acne – While sun exposure may reduce the appearance of pimples in the short-term, repeated sun exposure can cause a host of other skin ailments and actually worsen breakouts. It’s important to wear proper SPF every time you leave the house—your skin will thank you.
Blackheads are Caused by Dirt – The dark noticeable tips are not caused by the presence of dirt. Sebum contains melanin pigment, and when it makes contact with the air, it oxidizes, resulting in the dark hue observed in these open comedones. Therefore, washing more rigorously is of no use, and can actually harm the skin even further.
Popping Pimples – One thing most dermatologist agree on when it comes to acne treatment: don’t attempt to pop your own pimples or extract your own comedones. Improper extractions can result in ruptured skin cells and the spread of bacteria that can worsen a current pimple—and cause new ones to sprout up.
Note: Skin care professionals and estheticians with the proper training and equipment may offer pimple extraction services. Using sterile devices, these professionals can pull out the hardened material or fluid pus found within a comedo or pimple. After extraction, dermatologists will often apply medicine to the open pore to encourage healing. However, even if a dermatologist is able to successfully extract the contents of an acne lesion, there is a high chance of reoccurrence. Those who are elderly, ill, or have used topical steroids in the past should avoid extraction, as skin sensitivity may cause these individuals to be more prone to damage and scarring.
Moisturizer Makes Acne Worse – Those with oily, acne-prone skin often mistakenly believe that moisturizer can make their skin greasy and promote pimples—not so! Regardless of skin type, it’s important to keep your skin nourished with the proper moisture. That’s why the third component of our three-step system is a hydrating gel moisturizer that nourishes the skin with essential nutrients.
For added moisture, you can also try our Hydrate Skin Smoothie; this amazing formula reinvigorates the skin while adding an extra punch of nutrients.
Acne Treatment FAQ
Is It Good To Pop Pimples?
No! Avoid popping your own pimples. This practice can spread bacteria around; instead of getting rid of acne overnight, you may find you simply worsen your breakouts by attempting to pop your pimples. If you find you simply must pop a lesion to get rid of acne fast before a special event, be sure to use sterilized equipment and wash your face and hands thoroughly before and after.
How Do I Make Acne Go Away?
In order to properly get rid of acne without damaging your skin, it’s important to create a daily cleansing routine. Use a gentle acne treatment that effectively fights breakouts without causing damage to the skin.
What Is In Acne Lesions?
It’s important to understand what’s inside those acne lesions to properly treat them. When pores fill up with sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria, the mixture causes inflammation and results in painful pimples.
How Do I Get Rid of Dark Spots from Acne?
The dark spots from acne are actually pigment alterations. Getting rid of dark spots left behind by acne means following essential steps:
- Let time do its thing: dark marks generally fade over time.
- Use sunscreen and avoid excess sun exposure
- Consider chemical peels
- Utilize skin lighteners
- Use BioClarity daily to avoid future scarring
- BioClarity’s all-natural ingredients are designed to limit harsh side effects and keep your skin looking and feeling its best.
- Combining salicylic acid and Floralux makes for an effective acne treatment.
- Acne treatment for teens and young adults requires consistency.
- There are many acne myths that have been debunked—make sure you’re not falling for them.
- Birth control can be an effective treatment course for acne in women, but should be generally used in conjunction with a topical skin care regimen like BioClarity.