The good news is that acne is largely treatable, especially in severe cases. The drug Accutane (isotretinoin) remains available, despite its reputation for having serious side effects, including depression, if not monitored properly. Because of links to birth defects, the drug is also particularly hazardous for women who or pregnant or may become pregnant. "For those patients who take it, it will change their lives," said Dr. Robert S. Kirsner, chief of dermatology at University of Miami School of Medicine.
Those with less severe cases of acne, or those unwilling to take the drug, face a tougher battle, Kirsner said. In those cases, "you don't cure it. You treat it."
There are a variety of acne treatments other than pills, including injections that reduce inflammation and prescription and over-the-counter creams.
What to do? Review co-author Feldman advised acne sufferers to "go ahead and see your doctor to get it treated, a primary care doctor or a dermatologist, before there's scarring or psychological issues."
If you don't have insurance, many dermatologists will offer lower rates, and drug companies may be able to provide assistance too, he said.
For more about acne, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Steven R. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Robert S. Kirsner, M.D., Ph.D., chief, dermatology, University of Miami School of Medicine; January 2011 Dermatology Online Journal
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