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Acne treatments have changed a lot. While the over the counter remedies on shelves today are still very similar to the products of past decades, many advances have been made in prescription treatments for acne over the last ten years. We now have a range of effective medications to treat acne and advances in acne treatment continue to be made.
Many people are able to manage their spots with the same kind of over the counter products that have been used for decades. A wide range of creams, lotions and cleansers are available with different concentrations of benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, and these are usually enough to clear up mild acne, although it can take six to eight weeks. However, when these products don’t work or if the acne is more severe, painful, or is leaving scars, some extra help may be needed.
Several effective treatments are now available on prescription that can be tailored to the type and severity of acne as well as to the individual patient. The most common prescription acne treatment is a combination of antibiotic tablets and a cream or lotion containing benzoyl peroxide, a retinoid, azelaic acid, or a combination of these ingredients. If these first line treatments aren’t working after several months, the treatment may move on to isoretinoin, and several advanced options are now available to help reduce acne scarring too, including chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser treatments. With a little patience, most cases of acne can now be treated very effectively, but that doesn’t mean that research into new acne treatments has halted.
One area of research that is currently generating some interesting results is the use of nanoparticles as a delivery system. Nanoparticles are simply tiny particles that can be coated in different materials, including medications that can target acne and its causes. One recent study managed to prolong the anti-inflammatory activity of nitric oxide by releasing it gradually from nanoparticles. The nitric oxide was also able to eliminate the bacteria responsible for acne, without any antibiotics. Another research project has been using ultrasound to deliver gold-coated nanoparticles right into the sebaceous glands. These nanoparticles are designed to activate when stimulated by a laser, which can heat them to the point that they deactivate the sebaceous gland, preventing the overproduction of sebum that can cause acne. Although it may still be some time before these treatments are available for general use, this research shows great potential and is particularly important in the face of growing antibiotic resistance. These treatments could one day eliminate the need to rely on antibiotics to treat acne.