Several surgical or medical treatments may be used to reduce acne or the scars caused by the disease.
• Chemical peel. A chemical known as glycolic acid is first applied to the skin. When it dries, it is peeled off, taking the top layer of skin with it. This treatment helps reduce scarring.
• Collagen injection. Shallow scars are filled in by injecting collagen, a skin protein, beneath the scars.
• Comedo extraction. A special tool is used to remove a comedo from a pore.
• Dermabrasion. The affected skin is first frozen with a chemical spray. Then it is removed with a brush or sandpaper-like instrument.
• Intralesional injection. Anti-inflammatory drugs are injected directly into inflamed pimples.
• Punch grafting. Deep scars are removed and the area repaired with small skin grafts.
Alternative treatments for acne focus on proper hygiene and diet. Patients are advised to keep their skin clean and oil-free. They are also encouraged to eat a well-balanced diet high in fiber, zinc, and raw fruits and vegetables. They should also avoid alcohol, dairy products, caffeine, sugar, smoking, processed foods, and foods high in iodine, such as table salt.
Some doctors recommend the use of herbs to supplement the diet. Some herbs that have been used in the treatment of acne include burdock root, red clover, and milk thistle. Additional nutrients that may help to control acne include B-complex vitamins and chromium. Chinese herbal treatments that are recommended include cnidium seed and honeysuckle flower. Another herbal treatment is tea tree oil. The proper dose of these substances can be recommended by physicians or nutritionists.
Acne cannot be cured. However, it can be controlled in about 60 percent of patients with the drug isotretinoin. Improvement usually takes at least two months, and the problem may recur after treatment has been stopped. Inflammatory acne that results in the formation of scars may require one of the more aggressive treatments already described.
There are no sure ways to prevent acne. However, the following steps tend to reduce flare-ups ofthe condition:
• Gently wash—do not scrub—the affected areas once or twice every day.
• Avoid rough cleansers.
• Use makeup and skin moisturizers that do not produce comedos.
• Shampoo often and wear hair away from the face.
• Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid foods that trigger flare-ups.
• Give dry pimples a limited amount of sun exposure unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
• Do not pick or squeeze pimples.
• Reduce stress.