How to Treat Different Types of Acne According to Dermatologists?

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What is Acne?

Acne is a condition in which skin becomes oily, and open and closed comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) appear on the face and often the neck, shoulders, chest and back too.


In moderate and severe acne, skin becomes reddened and inflamed papules and pustules develop. It can be emotionally distressing, annoyingly persistent and lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and/or long-term scarring.


Non-inflammatory forms of acne, like whiteheads and blackheads, occur primarily on the face (forehead, nose and cheeks) and, more rarely, on the back. This form of acne is considered mild. They develop when comedones occur, which is when a hair follicle becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells.


Inflammatory acne such as pimples, nodules and cysts, occur primarily on the face (forehead, nose and cheeks) and, more rarely, on the back, and, depending on its frequency, can be considered mild or even a moderate form of acne.

While acne may show up in different severities and variations for different people, all acne sufferers agree that they can be unsightly and even painful, and, so, figuring out how to treat acne becomes a priority.

Should I consult a dermatologist for acne?

Yes. Because there are many types of acne and as many treatment options, it can be difficult figuring out which solution will work best without consulting a dermatologist.


The experts are better at diagnosing which type of acne you may have and identifying its severity. It’s important to know this to prevent any form of treatment from worsening your condition.


Dermatologists also have access to many more treatment options than those that may be available to you.

Topical acne treatment vs oral acne treatment

Mild forms of acne are relatively easy to treat, and you can do it with topical products (over-the-counter formulations or prescription-strength versions) or with hormone-balancing oral hormone medication.


Which type is best generally depends on the kind of acne and skin you have and your age. For example, if you have inflammation or clogged pores, a suitable cleanser can clear these up, while hormonal acne may need the help of more intensive topical or oral treatments.


Another factor that influences whether you take topical or oral treatment is which one you can commit to. A prescription topical medication, for example, may require weeks of frequent and regular application. In many cases, however, oral and topical treatments are administered concurrently for best results.


Here are some of the types of treatment for acne, including topical over-the-counter and prescription versions, and some oral medications:

How do dermatologists treat acne?

Topical treatments

Dermatologists often recommend acne treatment products containing beta hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid, as it naturally exfoliates the skin to remove dead skin cells, which are among the common causes of blackheads and whiteheads. You can find it in cleansers, toners, and moisturisers. Your dermatologist will also advise you to use oil-free non-comedogenic products to prevent a recurrence.


You should use products that are soap-free, non-comedogenic and non-greasy to prevent the formation of blackheads and whiteheads. The Eucerin ProACNE range has been specially formulated to work against the main causes of blemish and acne-prone skin.


Experts also recommend topical retinoids, which are available over-the-counter or through a prescription from a dermatologist.


Pimples can be treated with over-the-counter topical formulations that contain benzoyl-peroxide or sulphur-based face washes, which help to reduce swelling and eliminate the bacteria inside. These products can also remove excess sebum to prevent more pimples from forming.

Oral acne treatment

If the situation is more severe, dermatologists may recommend an oral or topical antibiotic in addition to the topical product. These include minocycline (oral) and clindamycin (topical). Some also prescribe topical retinoids to combat them. It may take several weeks to see improvement.


As for nodules, over-the-counter treatments are not powerful enough to treat them, and you will need prescription medicine like the orally taken isotretinoin. It is made from a form of vitamin A, and must be consumed daily for four to six months. Isotretinoin treats and prevents nodules by decreasing the size of your oil glands.


Isotretinoin is also commonly prescribed by dermatologists to treat cysts. In more severe cases, your doctor may have to surgically remove it.

Medical procedures

In very severe cases of nodules and cysts, your doctor may need to inject corticosteroids directly into them to minimise pain and inflammation.


In cases of acne conglobata, which is one of the most severe types of acne, there are many inflamed nodules, which are connected under the skin to each other. Dermatologists may administer any of the above treatments, and more intensive ones to treat this.