Other Acne Treatment Options
Doctors may use other types of procedures in addition to drug therapy to treat patients with acne. For example, the doctor may remove the patient's comedones during office visits. Sometimes the doctor will inject cortisone directly into lesions to help reduce the size and pain of inflamed cysts and nodules. Other treatments can also include the following:
Phototherapy. A relatively new treatment, best used for mild to moderate acne, involves using focused fluorescent lighting in the form of blue light or red light. Phototherapy seems to generate free radicals that kill P. Acnes. This treatment appears to work better than benzoyl peroxide and has very mild side effects. Cost is the big limiting factor for this treatment.
Hormone Therapy. Clues that help the doctor determine whether acne in an adult woman is due to an excess of androgen hormones are hirsutism (excessive growth of hair in unusual places), premenstrual acne flares, irregular menstrual cycles, and elevated blood levels of certain androgens. The doctor may prescribe one of several drugs to treat women with this type of acne. Since hormone levels are thought to be key to acne formation, it should not be surprising that hormone therapy is used as treatment.
- Low-dose estrogen birth control pills help suppress the androgen (pro-acne, male hormones) produced by the ovaries.
- Low-dose corticosteroid drugs such as Prednisone (Deltasone) and Dexamethasone (Decadron) can suppress androgen production by the adrenal glands. Intralesional steroid injections like cortisone are often used to reduce inflammation and prevent scarring when physicians manually remove comedones.
- Diuretic drugs such as Spironolactone (Aldactone) can help acne by reducing androgen production. This medicine reduces excessive oil production. Side effects of antiandrogen drugs may include irregular menstruation, tender breasts, headache, and fatigue.