How to get rid of acne?

Acne can be a challenging topic to talk about, right? 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 will speak, and it’s good news! The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) just updated its ‘Guidelines for care and management of Acne Vulgaris. If it sounds too ‘medical,’ let's call it the ‘AAD’s acne busting protocol.’

The one thing that stands out in the improved guidelines is that getting rid 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 variety of treatments. 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. But, according to AAD, some of us might have a longer relationship with acne than we would like, but they have found the key. And it is, drum roll please, a ‘combination attack’!
So, 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 ingredients 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 quickly 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

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


This drug is a derivative of Retinoic acid or Vitamin A and is influential in clearing nodular acne. However, it’s known to cause congenital disabilities, so absolutely avoid pregnancy if you choose to use this drug. It’s sort of the last resort. According to the guidelines, use Isotretinoin 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.

Isotretinoin 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 effectively treats acne. 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. 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 therapies like tea-tree and other essential oils, and diet changes that advocated cutting down skim milk.