Modern, Personalized Acne Treatment
Does it seem like you’ve “tried everything” for your acne? Many teenagers and young adults consult us after over-the-counter or non-dermatologist treatment has failed. Our scientific, multi-faceted, personalized approach emphasizes treating the causes and early stages of acne, rather than relying on single oral antibiotics to treat it once it has become infected. As with many problems we see, we strive for a preventive approach to acne. Many teenagers and young adults who have acne that has been difficult or hard to control with mail order or non-specialist treatment see fast, lasting results.
Traditional Acne Treatment and Antibiotic Resistance
Over-the-counter or mail order acne treatments are limited by one major factor – they cannot by law contain any prescription ingredients. For this reason, most of these preparations contain one of two active ingredients: benzoyl peroxide or salicyclic acid. Benzoyl peroxide is a synthetic bleach designed to reduce bacteria, but is irritating, especially when used in higher concentrations and left on the skin. Salicylic acid is a plant-derived substance similar to aspirin which causes flakiness, or “exfoliation” of the skin. Check the label on your favorite acne medicine – no matter where it comes from – chances are one of these two is an active ingredient. In our estimation, the differences between the many preparations containing one or both of these two ingredients is based largely on marketing, not medical science.
Most over-the-counter or mail order acne treatments contain either benzoyl peroxide or salicyclic acid.
Many non-dermatologists educated in general medicine treat acne like a simple infection, as one would treat strep throat, with one of a few commonly used acne antibiotics. These aim to reduce the numbers of the acne bacteria Proprionibacterium acnes. Patients often try one antibiotic after another, each of which works for about a month, then stops working. That’s the trouble with antibiotics – their effect often doesn’t last. The reason for this is antibiotic resistance. Most existing antibiotics have been around for decades (since at least the 1970’s), and acne bacteria have become increasingly resistant to single oral antibiotics.
Many non-dermatologists treat acne with one of a few commonly used acne antibiotics.
The are two more problems with both of these traditional approaches. First, they are only partial treatment, affecting only the secondary issues, and ignoring the primary cause of acne – overproduction of oil stimulated by hormonal factors. This is why teenagers get acne -it’s not about diet, or cleanliness, or any other factor normally under our own control – it’s about hormones and oil. Second, they are one-size-fits-all approaches. They fail to take into account the major differences between a teenage boy with hundreds of tiny white pimples on the forehead, and a young woman with deep, painful cysts on the lower face. Among the various types of acne such as comedonal acne, hormonal or adult acne, or nodulocystic acne, optimal treatment is very different.
Successful treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis from among the many different types of acne – comedonal acne, hormonal acne and nodulocystic acne, to name a few.
Despite what some would like to think, successful acne treatment just isn’t that simple. Acne treatment isn’t a matter of finding a “silver bullet” – a single treatment that works for everyone. It’s more like putting together pieces of a puzzle – a puzzle that is different for every patient.
A Thoughtful Approach to Acne Treatment
At Rustad Dermatology, we take pride in offering a rational, integrated and preventive approach to acne. This begins with a personal evaluation of each acne patient by a board-certified dermatologist, which allows us to provide the latest that both ancient wisdom and modern skin science has to offer.
Your dermatologist will review the factors which may affect your acne, including the products you use, your activities and lifestyle, and earlier medications you have tried – a “wholistic” approach. We use our dermatology education and experience with thousands of acne patients to make an accurate diagnosis of your specific type.
We then put all the pieces of the acne puzzle together for you. Above all, we believe in the value of educating our patients, and will be happy to discuss each piece of your treatment plan with you.
Safe, Effective Blue Light Treatment
Blue light is one modern and effective alternative to the use of systemic antibiotics to control the bacteria involved in acne – Proprionibacterium acnes. Ultraviolet light was used in the past to treat acne, and just like a day at the beach, produced improvement of acne, but can cause both skin aging and skin cancer. If one moves just a little further along the wavelength spectrum, one comes to violet then blue – visible light. Visible light is no more harmful to the skin than a light bulb, but recent studies have shown that blue light effectively kills P. acnes bacteria, and is effective for acne. BLU-U® blue light photodynamic therapy treatments are simple – you relax under a canopy of light for a few minutes, once or twice per week for several weeks. Blue light is both safe and comfortable. Many of our patients notice a difference after 1-2 weeks, and most don’t need treatments as often after just a few weeks. If you decide on blue light therapy, treatments can be given the same day as your appointment, and the cost is reasonable – about the same as most office copayments.
If you think you’ve “tried everything” for your acne, or are looking for an alternative to conventional treatments or antibiotics, our educated, personalized approach to acne might be just what you need. To schedule a consultation with our board-certified dermatologist, call us at 402.484.6222.