Understanding Acne

For the most part, acne begins to make its presence known during puberty, but the truth is that it can begin to appear at just about any age. So, what causes acne? At its core, acne is a condition of the oil glands. Your oil glands function, as their name suggests, by producing oil that helps keep your skin healthy and hydrated. The oil that is created by your oil glands is released through small openings in your skin, known as pores. When these pores become clogged, the result is inflammation that eventually leads to the presence of pimples. 

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Customizing Your Treatment

Acne can take a wide variety of forms and can impact your skin in a number of different ways. Thankfully, we have just as many treatment options and medication offerings that can target the different types of acne, offering you a precision-tailored solution to your acne that is customized directly to you and your needs. 

Some patients, for example, may be dealing with a combination of acne types—this may require a combination of treatment modalities to ensure that we’re addressing the issue properly. Here at Certified Dermatology, we’re proud to be offering an impressively wide range of treatment options, giving us the ability to help you find relief from acne, no matter how severe your issues may be. Ready to learn more? Reach out and set up your initial appointment with a member of our team today.

Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids are a reliable starting point for acne treatment. These topical cream or gel medications like Retin-A (tretinoin), Differin (adapalene), Epiduo (adapalene & benzoyl peroxide), and Tazorac (tazarotene) work to unclog your pores and relieve acne.

If you are using a retinoid treatment, be sure to use only a very small amount. Dryness and flaking are the most common side effect of this particular type of medication, so use caution when applying topical retinoids to your skin.

We often recommend using a “pea-sized” amount for your entire face. Using more than this amount will only irritate your skin. If your skin is irritated, you can find relief with an oil-free moisturizer or by skipping your retinoid medication for a night or two.

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Benzoyl Peroxide

Another great topical product for acne is benzoyl peroxide (or BPO). BPO comes in cleansers and topical gels that are quickly and easily applied to the skin. BPO targets the bacteria (p. acnes) that cause acne, actively helping to reduce its presence on your skin and reducing the presence of visible acne in the process. Mild dryness and irritation tend to be the only side effects that come with BPO use.

More Effective Acne Treatments


Topical dapsone (Aczone) is a newer medication that has been made available in the last few years. This medication creates its results by targeting the inflammation associated with acne. It is generally well tolerated and does not cause much irritation or dryness, though you’ll need to be careful with this product: when dapsone is combined with benzoyl peroxide, it can sometimes cause a temporary orange color to the skin.


Another effective medication that is often found in cleansers and sometimes topical creams is sulfur. Sulfur is an effective tool for acne because it comes with a wide range of benefits. It reduces oily skin without causing too much irritation and works to unclog pores effectively by increasing the turnover of your topmost layer of skin. Sulfur treatments also have anti-microbial benefits, working to effectively target the bacteria that cause acne. 

Topical Antibiotics

Various topical medications can be helpful at times, but some patients can develop what’s known as bacterial resistance when using them. In most cases, topical antibiotics are best used in combination with other topical medications, like benzoyl peroxide, to prevent the development of bacterial resistance. Two such antibiotics that are often used to treat acne topically are clindamycin and erythromycin.

Oral Antibiotics

Oral medications can be very effective for the right patient. The most commonly used oral antibiotics are known as the Tetracycline class of antibiotics, including Doxycycline and Minocycline. These treatments effectively reduce the presence of bacteria on your skin and will also help to reduce inflammation in many cases. 

It may seem strange, but these antibiotics are effective when prescribed for a lengthy period of time, usually a few months. This is often what is needed to see your ideal results. Side effects of these medications can include nausea, occasional headaches, and dizziness. Oral antibiotics should be taken as prescribed and with plenty of fluids.

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Isotretinoin (Accutane)

Accutane is used for the effective treatment of more severe cystic acne, which can frequently be very stubborn and resistant to other treatments. Accutane is something of a heavy-duty response and is something of a “last resort” treatment that tends to be utilized when a patient is dealing with chronic acne that simply won’t respond to other treatments.

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