Because acne is not an infection, medicated preparations do not help the problem; they tend to irritate the skin. The following should avoid being used where acne occurs:
oily make-ups sunscreens preparations with an SPF factor moisturisers.
Acne spots often become worse if they are squeezed or picked and it is essential that these habits are discouraged.
In the treatment of acne, alcohol-based lotions may be used to reduce the oiliness of the skin; they sometimes induce a mild peeling. There are also some special products containing retinoic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which peel the skin rather more vigorously.
Lotions containing antibiotics (eg clindamycin, erythromycin) may be prescribed and are often used in combination with other treatments.
Oral antibiotics are often used in the treatment of acne. They are not used in their usual role of dealing with infections, but have a place in preventing the breakdown of oil into the irritant substances which set off the inflammation. The most commonly used agents are in the tetracycline group. Long courses of these antibiotics, often lasting months or years, are required.
continued over… Skin conditions: treatment of acne V.4.0
State of New South Wales, Department of Education and Communities and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, 2011 1/2 Published by NSW Curriculum & Learning Innovation Centre
More recently, isotretinoin (Roaccutane) has become available for very serious cases of acne. Its use is restricted to people with severe acne and it is never used unless other standard treatment has failed. Tests, including a pregnancy test for all girls, are required before starting and at intervals during therapy.
The medication has a high risk of complications for the newborn baby if taken during pregnancy. There are other side effects that cause discomfort including dry skin, lips, and eyes, and occasionally painful joints.
Certain acne treatments can cause photosensitivity, making some outdoor summer activities inadvisable, or requiring extra protection, as the student may be particularly vulnerable to sunburn. The medication Roaccutane (isotreninoin) may also preclude some adolescents from taking part in very strenuous physical activities such as cross-country races.
Acne is a most distressing condition for a young person and it is very important that it is never trivialised with such statements as, ‘You’ll grow out of it’, or ‘It’s just a few pimples’. Parents and carers of adolescents with acne can be advised to seek advice from their general practitioner about treatment options.
With treatment, almost all acne can be controlled to a very satisfactory extent. The adverse effect of severe acne on emotional and social development should never be under-estimated.
Skin conditions: treatment of acne V.4.0
2/2 State of New South Wales, Department of Education and Communities and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, 2011
Published by NSW Curriculum & Learning Innovation Centre
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