Cystic Acne Treatments

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Cystic acne is the most rare and most severe form of acne, which can become disfiguring and leave permanent scarring on the skin. One of the more tragic outcomes of this form acne is that it develops during adolescence, an emotionally vulnerable stage in life anyway. There is an unfounded social stigma associated with this condition and many people who suffer from it withdraw from normal social activities and even develop clinical depression that has been known, in some cases, to lead to suicide.

There is a series of accepted cystic acne treatments that are recommended in the United States, starting with the mildest medications first, followed by more aggressive treatments if the first fails. Each phase of treatment is associated with more expense and stronger side effects to the patient.

Cleanliness is always the first step to a clear complexion but nodulocystic acne (cystic acne) is not related to hygiene. The blemishes develop at a far deeper layer of the epidermis than cleanliness can affect.

Topical ointments and lotions are the next line of treatment but they often prove ineffective with this deep-seated form of acne. Antibiotics are the next stage and they often prove effective initially. Their effectiveness diminishes over time, however, and long-term use of antibiotics is not safe.

When these milder cystic acne treatments fail, there are highly effective prescription medications that can be taken, both topically and orally, but they are extremely dangerous and are considered the drug of last resort.

These drugs contain a medication called isotretinoin, which is a vitamin A derivative known to cause many severe side effects, including a flare up of acne. Some of these side effects will go away once the body adjusts to the medication and others will go away once the medication is discontinued. Unfortunately, some of them are permanent.

Cystic acne treatments containing isotretinoin are known to cause a very high number of severe defects in a developing fetus. For this reason, it should never be taken by any woman pregnant or likely to become so during treatment.

The chances of birth defects caused by this medication are so extremely high that men taking this medication are not allowed to donate blood on the chance the blood recipient may be, or become, pregnant after transfusion. This restriction on blood donation applies even for a period of time after treatment has been discontinued.

There are rigid restrictions in the United States for the prescribing and dispensing of these isotretinoin-containing cystic acne treatments. Before prescribing these medications, doctors are required by federal law to register the patient on a national database and pharmacists must check this registry before filling and releasing the medication to the patient.

Prescribing physicians are restricted to a 30-day supply of this medication and patients must pick it up from the pharmacy within a restricted period of time. If the pick-up time is missed, the patient must wait 30 days before obtaining a new prescription.

Cystic acne treatments containing isotretinoin are formulated based upon the patient’s weight and severity of condition. For these reasons especially, it is never a good idea to share this medication with another person or to take another person’s prescription.

Med-Help is for informational purposes and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment recommendations.

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