In our last blog post, How to choose the best acne treatment, we discussed the empty promises of many of the routine acne treatments that are available without a prescription. So what about prescription creams and gels? You know the ones, you’ve probably even used one or more without seeing much improvement in your breakouts. Well this is another over-promise by your doctor. The truth is that rarely do topical acne treatments alone offer the type of response that many patients are seeking. Don’t get me wrong, they may help a bit but they usually don’t do much more than that, hardly making it into the “best acne treatment” or “acne treatments that really work” categories. So why do doctors hand them out so freely? Well that’s because most doctors and even most dermatologists are programmed to think about acne as a surface condition. They fall into the trap of believing that a cream or a gel is all that’s needed to treat acne breakouts. Even dermatologists who know better still prescribe topical acne treatments almost as a reflex. After all, they rationalize that it can’t really hurt and there’s a chance that it might actually work. I think we all know by now that that’s seldom true. The reality is that acne is caused by hormonal factors that trigger oil glands to work abnormally. The idea that a topical antibiotic will cure acne or even provide very significant relief is just not the case. Now the drug companies that promote these medications will point out that they have studies that show that these topical medications provide “statistically significant” results. This is often true, but it seldom translates into what patients would call effective results. For example, if a person with twenty pimples on his or her face uses a product that reduces the number to fifteen, is that really accomplishing the goal? Will the patient actually feel that he or she has gotten better? Usually not.
So what’s the next step? What really works? Who can help? We’ll answer these questions in the next blog post and discuss a reasonable way to move forward and navigate the system in order to finally achieve positive results.
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