How to Treat Nodular Acne

Written by lynn yoffee
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Acne is a skin disorder caused by hormones and various other substances that affect the oil glands and hair follicles. Pores become plugged up and pimples result. Almost everyone gets acne, but some people experience a severe form called nodular acne, which calls for aggressive treatment by a dermatologist to include topical and oral medications and possible surgical drainage or removal of stubborn nodules, which are deeply inflamed bumps.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Topical antibiotics
  • Topical vitamin A derivatives, also known as retinoids, such as tretinoin (Retin-A2), adapalene (Differin) or tazarotene (Tazorac)
  • Topical prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid (Azelex) or sodium sulfacetamide/sulphur-containing products
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Oral isotretinoin (Accutane)

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    Treatment Regimen

  1. 1

    Seek the help of a dermatologist because nodular acne is tough to treat with over-the-counter remedies.

  2. 2

    Treatment of nodular acne by a dermatologist typically begins with a combination of both oral and topical medicines.

  3. 3

    Topical antibiotics will be prescribed to reduce inflamed pimples and to hinder the growth of bacteria leading to infections. Vitamin A derivatives (retinoids) work as an aid to unplug bumps, allowing other medications to get down into the inflamed hair follicles. Other topical drugs, such as prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide or sulphur-type products, are used to slow skin oil production, calm inflammation and inhibit bacteria.

  4. 4

    Take the prescribed oral medications, such as antibiotics, because they will work in unison with the topical treatments. Antibiotics may need to be taken for an extended period of time to effectively treat nodular acne.

  5. 5

    To avoid scarring, your doctor may also prescribe isotretinoin (Accutane), a powerful acne drug that's taken orally that helps to reduce oil production in your skin. After taking isotretinoin for about 15 to 20 weeks, nodular acne may completely disappear for some people.

  6. 6

    Get help from a dermatologist if you develop a very large pimple that doesn't respond to medicines because it may need to be drained or surgically removed.

  7. 7

    Develop a consistent cleansing routine. Wash gently with a mild soap. Men should try to use electric or safety razors to avoid cutting blemishes.

Tips and warnings

  • Because so many nodular acne medicines can make a person more likely to sunburn, it's key to avoid suntanning and especially sunburns.
  • Women may need to change the type of cosmetics used while in the midst of acne treatment, particularly to those that are oil free.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are a woman of child-bearing age before taking isotretinoin, because it can cause birth defects in a foetus. Some people may experience depression and suicidal thoughts along with other side effects from isotretinoin. Those side effects typically disappear after you stop taking the medication.

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