Dermatologists Share the Best Acne Advancements of the Last 5 Years

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Are you among the countless individuals who find themselves in a never-ending battle against acne breakouts? Dealing with constant flare-ups can be both physically and emotionally draining, leaving you feeling frustrated and desperate for a solution. But take heart—the field of dermatology has experienced remarkable breakthroughs in the past five years, offering hope to those who have long sought relief from stubborn acne. We’ve spoken to top dermatologists across the country, and they have revealed their top choices for clearing acne in the modern age. From innovative creams and lotions to cutting-edge laser therapies, these acne treatments are revolutionizing acne care and providing newfound relief for those struggling with persistent breakouts.

Unlocking the Secret of “Fungal Acne”

If you’ve been dealing with small, nearly identical bumps on your face and shawl area, it might be time to consider the possibility of “fungal acne.” Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD highlights this lesser-known form of acne, caused by yeast or pityrosporum, that has recently gained recognition. Armed with proper medications and expert guidance, you can witness near-miraculous improvements and finally bid farewell to those pesky blemishes. “We often see patients who have been mistreated with unnecessary antibiotics that actually worsen acne as they promote yeast-derived acne,” he explains. “It is also becoming more prevalent for unknown reasons, so it is important to understand it can be a cause if you have small nearly identical bumps on the face and ‘shawl’ area. The treatment is oral fluconazole two to three times weekly for a few weeks.  Some cases may need longer than that to improve, but most improve nearly immediately.”

The Hormonal Acne Game-Changer 

Are you struggling with hormonal acne that seems resistant to traditional treatments? New York dermatologist Elaine Kung, MD calls Winlevi “a groundbreaking medication cream” that tackles the root cause of acne: androgens. “It is a medication cream that has been shown in clinical studies to reduce oil production,” she says. “Before Winlevi, I would prescribe oral medications like birth control pills or spironolactone for women and Accutane to effect a noticeable change in someone’s oil production. It is the first unique chemical ingredient in many years that can treat inflammatory and clogged pore acne. Acne improvement can be seen as early as four weeks of use and greater improvements in skin quality can be seen after 12 weeks. It can also be paired with other skin care ingredients like retinoids.”

Empowering Patients with Oral Spironolactone 

Hormonal imbalances can wreak havoc with your skin, leading to stubborn acne. Chapel Hill, NC Dermatologist Beth Goldstein, MD says what is old is new again and says oral Spironolactone is a powerful tool to block acne-stimulating hormones: “Given that there is such a strong hormonal component to acne, blocking the effect of acne stimulating hormones at the follicle without causing antibiotic resistance has been shown time and again to be a great option for women. However there is still a strong issue with avoiding pregnancy, menstrual irregularities, breast tenderness—but overall with proper dosing this can be quite effective for many women with persistent nodular and nodulocystic acne.”

The Acne Laser Elixir

Fed up with conventional acne treatments? Rochester, NY dermatologist Lesley Loss, MD recommends Sciton’s Forever Clear BBL, a cutting-edge laser therapy as one of her go-to acne treatments. “It uses the power of broad band light to treat acne—it treats bacteria, redness and tightens the skin. My patients also notice significant improvement in acne scarring and post-inflammatory pinkness related to acne,” she says. Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill also likes this treatment, noting it’s her go-to for achieving remarkable skin improvements. “With specific wavelengths tailored to individual skin types, it can effectively target acne-causing bacteria, reduces redness, minimizes scarring, and addresses hyperpigmentation. This treatment is an ideal complement to topical and oral acne medications,” she adds. According to Dr. Loss, it is typically administered as a series of four to six treatments, two to four weeks apart, and maintenance can be done every three to six months.  

A Multifaceted Approach to Clear Skin 

Seeking a comprehensive approach to acne treatment? New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD  encourages patients to address acne from multiple angles, combining dietary modifications, skin-care regimens, and personalized in-office treatments like Morpheus8, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and HydraFacials. With the introduction of Winlevi, Amzeeq, and other promising therapies, this multifactorial approach has yielded remarkable results for countless acne sufferers. “Amzeeq, new medication that contains minocycline, is an antibiotic that’s been used for almost 50 years orally but has never been available for use directly on the skin. Having it in a foam makes it easy to use. Just a small amount spreads easily and is gentle on skin, Amzeeq contains soybean and coconut oils that are naturally moisturizing.” 

The Gentle Retinoid 

Dealing with acne can be tough, but Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew Elias says Arazlo lotion offers a ray of hope for those who struggle with tolerating retinoid treatments. He applauds this breakthrough low-dose emulsion lotion, offering the same efficacy as tazarotene with enhanced tolerability. Embrace clearer skin with this frontline treatment option. “Arazlo lotion is by far and away the biggest game changer in managing acne for me over the last five years. Topical retinoids are still the number-one front line treatment for treating acne before any devices or lasers, and in my opinion most dermatologists have felt that tazarotene is the most effective topical but one of the least well tolerated, that is until now. Arazlo was formulated in a low dose emulsion lotion, the first of its kind, providing equal efficacy to tazarotene in way more tolerable formulations. Being able to provide unbelievable clearance with a highly well tolerated topical product has been the biggest game changer for my practice.”

The Dynamic Duo 

Melville, NY dermatologist Kally Papantoniou, MD says the Winlevi and Zilxi combination is a potent way to combat acne in multiple ways. “Winlevi is a topical cream that contains a form of spironolactone that is very helpful for hormonal acne,” she explains. “This is a great substitute for oral spironolactone in patients who are not a candidate. Zilxi is a topical foam that contains the antibiotic minocycline. This is a great option for those who are not a candidate for oral antibiotics, and it is great for inflammation. It is not drying as many of the other topical acne medications are.” 

The Last Line of Defense 

If you’ve tried numerous treatments to no avail, Miami dermatologist Anna Chacon, MD introduces the last line of treatment— Isotretinoin, or Accutane. While not new, she says patients should consider it when all else fails. “The best acne treatment for me is the last line of treatment, Isotretinoin. I have had a lot of patients that can attest to the efficacy of this medication. It’s potent and clears nearly all types of breakouts and severe acne scarring. I consider this as the last line of treatment for my patients because Isotretinoin is recommended to be used when other treatments have failed already. There are a lot of precautions when taking this medication especially for women because it may cause birth defects if taken when pregnant. Despite its side effects, isotretinoin remains the most clinically effective anti-acne therapy. It produces long-term remission and/or significant improvement in many patients.”

Newer and tried and true options aside, it’s important not to lose hope in your acne journey. With new treatments and approaches in your arsenal, a new chapter of clear, radiant skin is on the horizon. Remember, each individual’s acne journey is unique, so it’s essential to consult with a board-certified dermatologist to identify the best approach for your specific needs. 

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