American Academy of Dermatology Acne Update

Attacking acne from different angles is better than a single treatment

Attacking acne from different angles is better than a single treatment

Acne can be a really difficult topic to talk about, right? I mean, just hearing the name can bring up these disgusting images of puss filled zits and horrible pimples. But as they say, not talking about a problem is never a solution, so we are going to talk, and it’s good news! The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) just updated their ‘Guidelines for care and management of Acne vulgaris’. If it sounds too ‘medical’ lets call it the ‘AAD’s acne busting protocol’.

The one thing that stands out in the improved guidelines is the fact that getting rod of acne requires a multi-faceted approach. In other words, no one treatment is enough and a combination has to be used. So it’s officially confirmed… what we’ve been telling readers all along is getting rid of acne takes a combination of treatments (which Exposed Skin Care conveniently provides in their kits). Simply changing your diet probably won’t do the trick. That expensive bottle of cleanser you’ve been eyeing probably won’t cut it, either.

Let’s get one thing out of the way. There is no guarantee that any strategy will work all the time. Some of us might have a longer relationship with acne than we would like, but according to AAD, they have found the key. And it is, drum roll please, a ‘combination attack’!
So, basically, the AAD has several methods and wants you to pick any two in combination. Let’s see what these are:

Topical therapy

This consists of the prescription or over-the-counter creams, face washes etc., that you apply directly to your face. These typically contain agents such as Salicylic Acid, Retinoids, Sulfones or Azelaic Acid.


This line of attack involves targeting the germs causing acne. Although they are not available over-the-counter, your dermatologist can easily write you a prescription for these and you will often apply these on the zits directly as well. Some examples of the commonly used antibiotics are Tetracycline, Erythromycin and Amoxicillin.

Hormonal agents

Its not as complicated as it sounds. Basically, the hormonal agents that we’re talking about are plain old regular birth control pills. Many women on these pills are able to clear up acne and maintain clearer skin. These pills are designed to control hormone production, but that in turn controls acne. Talk about a win-win situation!


This drug is a derivative of Retinoic acid or Vitamin A and is really powerful in clearing nodular acne. However, it’s known to cause birth defects so absolutely avoid pregnancy if you choose to use this drug.

It’s sort of the last resort. According to the guidelines, use Isotretinonin only if you have tried the earlier three methods and nothing seems to be working. Even then, think long and hard before using this drug.

Isotretinonin has stirred up controversy ever since it was marketed more than 30 years ago. In 2005, the US FDA added a black box warning for suicide, depression and psychoses to this drug.

However, a 2014 study in a peer reviewed scientific dermatological journal revealed that this drug is very effective in treating acne and that, in fact, it’s not associated with suicidal thoughts or depression in clinical trials. This came as welcome news but still, women ought to be ultra careful with this drug. The potential of birth defects is always scary. As a matter of fact, women on this drug are required to enroll in the federal iPledge program.

The AAD Guidelines also did not recommend three more popular treatments to control acne: treatments like laser and chemical peels, alternative treatments like tea-tree and other essential oils and diet changes that advocated cutting down skim milk.

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