The Cost of Clear Skin

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During their adolescent years, teens are trying to find out who they are, where they fit in, and where they belong. They’re going through puberty, voices and bodies are changing, and their appearance begins to be important. This can be tough stage in their life, but even more so if they have acne. It is noted that the majority that struggle with acne are in their teen years, but it’s also common that women have acne throughout their adulthood into their 40’s and 50’s.

Acne is a skin condition that happens when oil and dead skin cells clog the skin’s pores. There are different types of acne; the mild form is when you have a few red spots called pimples, but the severe acne can be hundred of pimples that aren’t just on the face, but can also include the neck, chest, and back.

Symptoms of acne are blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. However, Cystic Lesions are pimples that are very large and deep, which can be painfully infected and leave scarring. Unlike the mild form of acne, Cystic Lesions just don’t go away after a few days; they can last weeks and sometime months so treatment is more dramatic.

A dermatologist has many treatment options for patients that struggle with acne. He/she will recommend that patients use an antibacterial face wash, in addition to using creams that contain benzoyl peroxide, which can be purchased over the counter at a local drugstore. If this doesn’t work, a dermatologist will give the patient a prescription for creams or lotion which contains an antibiotic, and in severe cases a patient will receive an Interlesional CorticosteroidInjection as well as being put on an oral antibiotic.

The different types of medications that can be used are, Amoxicillin, Minocycline, Doxycycline, Erythromycin, Tetracycline,and Accutane.  All antibiotics have mild side effects, so a doctor will monitor the patient to see how they respond to it. Because every patient is different some patients have to try several different antibiotics to receive optimum results. When the patient’s skin doesn’t respond to these medications and all avenues have been visited a dermatologist may try using Accutane, but only as a last resort because the side effects can be severe.

A patient can have a severe allergic reaction, which causes difficulty breathing, closing of the throat, hives, and swelling of the face, tongue, or lips. Changes in vision, including decreased, blurred, painful or constant dryness of the eyes, and difficulty seeing in the evening hours or at night, prove to be hazardous when driving or doing normal routine activities.  Accutane can also cause feelings of depression, changing of sleep, inability to concentrate, loss of appetite, crying spells, irritability, suicidal thoughts or other mental health problems. Stomach, chest, and pain in the patient’s bowel have been documented, as well as rectal bleeding, severe, or bloody diarrhea. Patients have mentioned that they have pain when swallowing, new or worsening heartburn, dark urine, yellowing of the skin or eyes, severe headache dizziness, seizures, nausea and vomiting. Joint or muscle pain has been noted, as well as hearing problems, fainting, or slurred speech. Women that are pregnant should never take Accutane because the side effects can cause birth defects and death.

When weighing all the options, a patient may have to be treated for longer periods of time using over the counter face creams and oral antibiotics, but using a medication with severe side effects may not be the answer and may cause more problems to begin with. Before starting this medication a patient and their doctor really need to list the pro’s and con’s of the medication and see if it would really be worth risking their overall health and well being.


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