There are numerous acne medications available to the consumer in this day and age. The choice ranges from gentle medications which seek to promote the production of natural defences against the causes of acne, to very powerful chemical compounds which are often characterised as “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”. If you have the room to swing a sledgehammer, and you really want to eat a nut, then maybe these are for you. However, the side effects are enough to make anyone think twice.
Isotretinoin is one of, if not the most powerful anti-acne compounds available today. Better-known by its commercial name, Accutane, it is used as a last resort almost exclusively in cases of cystic acne. It has been proven to get results, but at a cost. Pregnant women, or those who are planning a pregnancy, are advised to steer clear as it can cause birth defects such as hearing and visual impairment, facial disfigurement and mental retardation. In addition it has been linked with depression, muscle aches and hair thinning among other problems.
Birth control pills have also been indicated as a good way of treating acne due to their activity on the hormonal imbalances that can plague a sufferer. However, oral contraceptives have been linked to depression as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes or breast cancer. It should be noted that this increased risk may still place you very low on a list of “at risk patients”, and consultation with a doctor should give you all the information you need in order to medicate safely.