If over-the-counter acne treatments aren’t working for you, it might be time to visit your dermatologist to have stubborn breakouts treated.  Learn which procedures can help severe cases of acne.

While you can find nonprescription acne washes, lotions, and gels to treat acne sometimes it is not enough to control the problem.  For stubborn or severe acne, here are some procedures that can be performed at a dermatologist’s office:

Extractions (also called acne surgery) help remove pockets of oil and dead skin.   A few different sterile instruments can be used to safely drain whiteheads, blackheads, and small cysts.  Extractions must be done carefully by someone with experience or they can turn a small pimple into a festering boil, which can become infected and take weeks to heal. This is the reason doctors usually recommend that pimples not be squeezed; without the right instruments and technique, you can badly scar your skin.

Large cysts (such as those that result from hormonal breakouts) can be treated with dilute cortisone injections, which shrink the inflammation under the skin, often within a day or two.  The amount of cortisone is very small, but a skilled doctor must do the injection — otherwise it can cause your skin to become pitted.

Acne peels with alpha and beta hydroxy acids can help unclog pores and reduce blackheads, especially if there are lots of little bumps and pimples; dermatologist favor solutions containing salicylic acid and lipo hydroxy acid, which target the oil glands.  Peels generally cause pinkness and flaking for a few days.

Acne laser and photo facial treatments can help kill acne-causing bacteria and shrink pores, although the effect is temporary.  For best results, these treatments are done once every three to four weeks, so they can be very costly. However, there’s little to no recovery time.

 

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