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Acne Treatment Options

If you have tried several acne treatments and nothing seems to work, you don’t have to suffer from acne. Dr. Michael Rains at Beacon Dermatology in Asheville, North Carolina will work with you to find the right solution for you and your lifestyle.

Dr. Michael Rains offers treatments aimed at managing controllable factors like reducing bacteria, decreasing oil production, and encouraging cell turnover to unclog pores, and importantly to prevent scarring. Treatment options depend on the type, severity, and underlying causes of the acne as well as which treatments you have tried.

After examining your skin, Dr. Rains will create a treatment plan tailored to your needs and concerns. Treatment plans typically combine options such as a retinoid plus benzoyl peroxide and an antibiotic. Here are some of the commonly used acne treatment options:

Topical treatments

  • Benzoyl peroxide: Kills bacteria, unclogs skin pores, and prevents new acne from forming.
  • Salicylic acid: Helps unclog pores and prevents lesions.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): Remove dead skin cells and unclog pores.
  • Retinoids: Retinoids work by stimulating cell turnover to clear dead skin cells, open clogged pores, regulate oil production and clear out bacteria to treat active acne and inflammation. Regular use can also prevent future outbreaks.
  • Tretinoin: This prescription medication affects sebaceous glands and is used to treat mild to moderate acne. It accelerates the turnover of skin cells to keep pores open.
  • Topical antibiotics: (Erythromycin or Clindamycin): These antibiotics help kill excess bacteria on the skin.
  • Azelaic acid: Azelaic acid helps reduce acne by killing the bacteria that infect pores and by decreasing the production of keratin, a natural substance that can lead to the development of acne.

Oral medications

  • Oral antibiotics: Reduce bacteria and inflammation, commonly prescribed for moderate to severe acne.
  • Contraceptive pills: For women, certain birth control pills can help regulate hormones and reduce acne.
  • Spironolactone: An anti-androgen agent sometimes prescribed for women with acne.
  • Isotretinoin: An intense treatment for severe acne, which can cause significant side effects and requires close medical monitoring


  • Light and laser therapy: Kills acne-causing bacteria and reduces oil production. Studies show laser and light therapies can help to clear acne.
  • Corticosteroid injections: These can rapidly relieve pain and swelling from cystic acne.
  • Chemical peels: Removes the top layer of the skin, unclogging pores, and renewing skin surface.
  • Drainage and extraction: A procedure to remove large cysts.

At-home therapies

  • Over the counter (OTC) treatments: There are numerous OTC acne products available, which often contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or alpha hydroxy acids.
  • Gentle skincare: Use mild cleansers, avoid vigorous scrubbing, and moisturize if needed. Wash gently. Over-washing can irritate skin.
  • Non-comedogenic makeup: Use makeup that doesn’t clog pores.
  • Limit sun exposure: Sun can increase inflammation and redness.
  • Sunscreen: Avoid greasy sunscreen.
  • Healthy diet: Some find that certain foods exacerbate their acne, though evidence is still not entirely clear.
  • Avoid picking or squeezing: This can lead to scars and infections.

It’s also worth noting that what works for one person might not work for another, so it may require a bit of trial and error to find the most effective treatment for you.

Once your treatment plan shows results be sure to follow-up with Dr. Rains so he can prescribe a maintenance treatment plan to keep your acne under control.

Dr. Michael Rains is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Beacon Dermatology in Asheville, North Carolina. His approach to aesthetic and dermatologic treatments is holistically focused on revealing and enhancing a patient’s natural beauty. Dr. Rains is known for his caring and compassionate approach to medicine, listening to patients’ concerns and goals and ensuring they receive excellent care and education to ensure they can make informed decisions about their care.

At a Glance

Michael Rains, MD, FAAD

  • Board certified in dermatology
  • Specializing in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology
  • Author of multiple peer-reviewed publications and previous adjunct faculty at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Learn more

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