Acne during the teenage years is very common and can be most distressing emotionally. Almost 90% of teenagers will have some degree of acne ranging from mild to severe. The good news is that acne can be effectively treated with various medical treatment strategies currently available. The not-so-good news is that acne often run a relapsing course over 6-12 years, thus it is necessary to adhere to a safe maintenance topical regime over a longer period of time to prevent relapses even after the initial acne breakout has been controlled.
The treatment strategies to rid acne is based on the following considerations:
1. Severity of your acne. Mild acne should be treated with topicals (e.g. benzoyl peroxide, adapalene, tretinoin). Moderately severe acne may require a short course of oral antibiotics (e.g. doxycycline, erythromycin) over a period of 2-4 months to control the acne inflammation adequately. Severe acne with large painful lesions are at risk of significant scarring will often require the most effective medication (isotretinoin) appreciating it has potential side-effects that you and your parents must be made aware of.
2. Efficacy of treatment. More effective and alternative medication may be needed to control acne that has failed to respond to the usual medication used initially to treat your acne. Do let your doctor know what you have been treated with previously and what works and what does not.
3. Safety of treatment. The effectiveness of any medication given must be balanced with its potential to cause unwanted side-effects, some of which may be severe and made worse by your pre-existing medical condition.
The best treatment to rid acne during the teenage years is not simply the most effective treatment currently available but should be based on your current acne severity, previous response to treatment, known drug allergies or sensitivity to topicals previously given, underlying medical condition (e.g. liver disease, depression) and cost considerations among other factors.
Avoid succumbing to myths that does little help and may even aggravate your acne (e.g. washing your face excessively with harsh and abrasive soaps, popping pimples, sun-tanning to mask the acne marks, etc).
A proper evaluation by your doctor followed by a discussion of the various treatment options will be essential to find the best treatment method for you. Your doctor will be your expert guide leading you safely in banishing the red spots that bother you and helping you regain confidence to face the world again.
Hope this helps!
Dr Chin Yee Choong
1 Grange Road #10-03
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