It can be a challenging and stressful experience to deal with acne. This skin condition develops during the teenage years, typically due to an inflammation of the hair follicles and skin, plus excess skin sebum.
Although acne clears out on its own over time, a lot of people experience problematic and persistent acne that settles around for a few years, even after adolescence. For these people, oral prescription medications are the best solution.
There are many different options available. Each bears its own benefits and risks.
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For many years, oral antibiotics have been used for treating moderate and severe acne. Oral antibiotics are effective in lowering acne severity and have an acceptable safety profile. It works by cutting down the bacteria accountable for acne breakouts (Propionibacterium acne). Also, oral antibiotics help reduce skin inflammation.
Most people usually start on a high dosage, and as acne improves, they move to lower dosages. The following are the most common oral antibiotics to treat acne:
However, there’s been an increasing concern about the development of antibiotic resistance. With that said, you should intake oral antibiotics with a topical product containing benzoyl peroxide or retinoids to cut down the chances of the medication becoming less effective.
Also, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, oral antibiotics should be prescribed for at least 3-6 months. The common side effects of oral antibiotics include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and yeast infections.
Formerly known as Accutane, Isotretinoin is a very effective acne medication and is the best oral medication for severe acne. Isotretinoin works by minimizing the amount of oil on the skin. As a result, it cuts down the number of pore blockages or comedones produced. No comedones mean no pimples.
Treatment with this medication has shown to clear away acne, even with people whose blemishes like cysts and nodules have been impenetrable to treatment before.
However, don’t take this medication during pregnancy because isotretinoin can cause congenital anomalies. If you take isotretinoin and get pregnant, stop the medication right away, whether or not accutane gets rid of Acne.
If isotretinoin is prescribed, you’d be signed up in an FDA-approved course called the i- Pledge program. It requires every woman taking this drug to be on two forms of birth control during the end of the treatment.
The good news is that you only need at least two courses before acne disappears for good. Your dermatologists can help you decide if isotretinoin is suitable for you. Side effects may include the following:
- Decrease in hearing
- Slow healing
- Muscle or joint pain
- Decreased ability to fight off infections
- Blistering of the skin
- Dry skin
- Decrease in night vision
- Sun sensitivity
Women usually use oral contraceptives or birth control pills for treating acne. These drugs can minimize oil gland secretions by blocking out androgen hormones. Birth control pills might be an excellent option for women who wish to prevent pregnancy while treating acne that recurs with their menstruation period.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved many oral contraceptives for the treatment of acne in women, such as Yaz, Beyaz, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. However, you do not need to use these medicines.
For many years, doctors have done off-label prescriptions for oral contraceptives to treat acne. Like oral antibiotics, you may need to pair oral contraceptives with topical acne medication. Take note that not all women can take birth control pills to treat acne.
Oral contraceptives should not be used if you have had or have the following:
- Liver disease
- Breast cancer
- Blood clots
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Heart disease
Moreover, the side effects include:
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Headaches and nausea
- Sore breasts
Spironolactone is not exactly an acne treatment. It is a medication to treat heart disease and high blood pressure. However, some healthcare providers may prescribe it together with birth control pills. In addition, adult women can use it to treat hormonal fluctuations that can cause acne breakouts.
Although this drug is not a top-choice in acne treatment and isn’t commonly used, for some women, spironolactone is effective in treating acne that is not getting better with traditional treatments.
If you take this medication, make sure to follow instructions regarding how much potassium-rich foods you can eat. Also, it would be best if you didn’t get pregnant while taking spironolactone. Common side effects include reduced libido, menstrual irregularities, low blood pressure, breast tenderness, and an increased need to urinate.
Acne is a curable condition, even though it can be very frustrating. If lifestyle changes can’t do the trick and topical treatments don’t help improve your acne, then oral medication is the solution.
In some circumstances, you will only need a short time to get acne under control. However, at other times, you might need to take oral medications for long periods. If you’re concerned about taking an oral medication to treat your acne, talk to your dermatologist.