My first encounter with acne medicine, so to speak, happened when I was twelve years old. My grandmother just saw a big, swollen bubble on my cheek. Pained by the sight of my hideous facial growth, Grandma gestured toward her medicine cabinet and pleaded, “Put some turpentine in that glider to suck up that poison.” And follow that recipe for backwoods that I made.
Turpentine is certainly not an FDA approved acne drug, but the next morning that swollen nodule had somehow flattened out and turned into healed skin.
Not all zit tales end in such quick bliss.
Many people plagued by pimples find no relief from reliable pustule terminators like benzoyl peroxide or antibiotics. And so researchers toil in the labs and challenge the resistance of pimple-prone skin with another acne preventative. However, this summer, the entourage of new acne therapies could make blemishes disappear from your skin.
For starters, doctors may soon prescribe the acne medication normally reserved for the most severe cases of cystic or nodular acne, isotretinoin, for mild to moderate acne. Last June, a study published in the Dermatology Expert Review found that an intermittent low-dose regimen of isotretinoin could mitigate the potentially caustic side effects of isotretinoin, such as liver damage and extreme dryness of the skin, while effectively treating acne.
Bioidentical Acne Preventive Agents
While isotretinoin affects acne control by reducing facial oil secretion and bacteria count, a newly patented byproduct called phytosphingosine (PS) can fight pimples by mitigating pain-inducing inflammation.
Phytosphingosine (PS) is a fat that exists in the upper layers of the skin called the stratum corneum. According to a report from the International journal of cosmetic science, a skin-identical version of phytosphingosine exhibited antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties in the skin. Researchers suspect that this new anti-acne grease may soon complement topical pimple treatments.
Less threatening contraceptives
If such oil-laden topical acne creams prove insufficient to control blooming blemishes, a woman can bolster her skin care regimen with contraception. And with the advent of a new hormonal agent called drospirenone, women can enjoy fewer pimples and a more pleasant period.
Doctors may prescribe an oral contraceptive mixture of spirolactone and ethinyl estradiol to acne patients over 35 years of age.
Like spironolactone, drospirenone helps control acne by reducing androgenic hormonal activity such as excess facial oil production. However, when drospirenone displaces spirolactone in such contraceptives, women experience better acne control and less weight gain and period pain, while enjoying the same level of effective birth control.
While I don’t foresee that a pine derivative like turpentine will steal the acne control focus of isotretinoin, phytosphingosine, or birth control pills, I do predict that a generation from now, the multifaceted causes and contributors to injury acne will continue to baffle scientists and continue to fill our cabinets with antidotes to acne worthy of proof. Meanwhile, “Thank you Grandma.”
Pavicic, T; U Wollenweber, M Farwick & H Korting .. Antimicrobial and inflammatory activity and efficacy of phytosphingosine: an in vitro and in vivo study addressing acne vulgaris. International journal of cosmetic science, June 2007; vol 29, no 3, pp. 181-190.
Ramos-e-Silva, M; C da Silva and S Coelho. Oral isotretinoin: low-dose, intermittent regimen for acne. Dermatology Expert Review, June 2007; vol 2, no 3, pp. 267-269.
Rapkin, A&S Winer. Drospirenone: a new progestin. Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy, May 2007; vol 8, no 7, pp. 989-999.