Procedures for Treating Acne
Dermatologists occasionally use
procedures to help clear acne. These methods, which are described
below, should be performed by a dermatologist or other health care
practitioner. Trying these at home can lead to infection, worsening
of the acne and scarring.
Light chemical peels of glycolic acid and other chemical agents are
used by dermatologists to loosen blackheads and decrease acne
Sometimes removing comedones
proves beneficial. To extract whiteheads and blackheads,
dermatologists use a sterile pen-sized device. This procedure should
only be performed by a dermatologist or other medical professional.
Patients’ attempts to extract comedones and drain cysts by squeezing
or picking, can lead to worsening of the acne, scarring and
infection. Tissue injured by squeezing or picking can become
infected by staphylococci, streptococci and other bacteria.
Drainage and Surgical Extraction
Some large cysts do not respond to medication and may require
drainage and extraction. Drainage and extraction, which is also
called “acne surgery,” reduces the pain associated with these cysts
and decreases the likelihood of scarring. It should not be performed
by patients. Patients’ attempts to drain cysts or extract
by squeezing or picking, can lead to infection, worsening of the
acne and scarring. Dermatologists are trained in the proper
technique and perform “acne surgery” under sterile conditions.
Phototherapy (Laser and Light
Several laser and light treatments are available to treat acne. Some
of these laser and light treatments target only one factor that
acnes. For many patients, this is not a comprehensive
treatment for resolving their acne. A dermatologist can determine if
laser or light treatment is appropriate for a patient.
Advantages to laser and light
treatments include not having to remember to apply or take any
medication and the ability to treat hard-to-reach areas, such as the
back. However, laser and light treatments can be quite expensive,
and long-term effectiveness has not been proven.
Over the last several years, laser
technology has also assumed an increasingly important role in the
treatment of acne scars.
Anyone considering laser or light
therapy should consult a dermatologist experienced in providing the
therapy. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the physician’s
experience and qualifications.
content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology