The first thing to do is to get good advice about the options!
It is an option to do nothing - 70% of acne sufferers will find that their acne resolves without intervention. However, this can take many years and, of course, 30% do not resolve.
Most sufferers feel driven to do something to improve their physical appearance and consequently, the aim of acne treatment is to deal with skin eruptions in the short term and to prevent scarring in the long term: if no treatment is sought then long term scarring can occur.
It is commonly believed that, in order to get the better of spots and acne breakouts, it is necessary to use strong, alcohol based products to dry the skin out. Unfortunately, these same products can make the situation worse by stripping the skin of its natural oils and encouraging the sebum glands to work even harder. This, increased production of sebum provides the perfect environment for further bacterial growth.
Until recently, the only options were topical medications and drug based treatments.
Laser and light based treatments: A number of light based treatments claim to be effective but not all claims are equal! Some light systems have a number of years of credible scientific research behind them, others are only jumping on the bandwagon.
It can be difficult to evaluate the research as all 'studies' will follow a scientific looking format. Only PEER REVIEWED, RANDOMISED, DOUBLE BLINDED trials are of any value at all (and even these require expertise to evaluate). Other studies are compromised as they have most likely been paid for by the manufacturer and will only present a positive result.
There have been very few clinical trials on the effect of individual systems on acne and no comparative studies but a full clinical trial has recently been carried out on the use of the Nlite laser on live acne . The trial was carried out by Dr A Chu, a Consultant Dermatologist at the Department of Dermatology at Imperial College , the results of which were presented at The Royal Society of Medicine on 27th January 2003.
Standard anti-biotic medications (with the exception of Roaccutane) may be taken while undergoing Nlite treatment and a range of topical treatments may increase the benefits.
Topical Vitamin-A derivatives (also known as topical retinoids): These are supplied as creams, gels or lotions and take a central place in any treatment regime. Skin is often very sensitive to Retinoids and it may be necessary to acclimatise the skin carefully before full-strength applications are used.
Other topical treatments: Microdermabrasion may be recommended where the skin is very congested, or fruit acid peels and products might be used as adjuncts to both drug or light therapies.