Acne Treatment

The pharmacy is a good start when trying to treat acne.  Almost 20 percent of Canadians have acne, most are teenagers to adults in their 20’s.  Acne almost always affects the face, but may also be on your body. More women than men are affected by adult acne.

Why should you treat acne?  Acne can be mild or severe enough to permanently scar or disfigure.  However, even mild acne may be linked to depression that leads to self harm.  Acne may also impact social interactions and self-esteem.


Acne symptoms include whiteheads, blackheads or pimples.  They are caused by a blockage of oil, debris and dead skin in the hair follicle.  It usually affects the forehead and face, but may include the back, shoulders or chest.  Acne can also have a bacterial component and/or inflammation. Treatment choices will vary depending on symptoms and severity.


One common trigger for acne is hormonal, hence it affects teenagers and young adults, persisting more in adult women.  Some medications may also be a cause for acne. Other triggers include touching or physically blocking hair follicles (hair at the forehead, phones touching the face, cosmetics, and oily moisturizers), or a genetic predisposition,    


The goal of acne treatment is to reduce outbreak numbers, severity and prevent scarring.  One of the most obvious starts is to prevent blockage of the hair follicle. However, over washing, excessive force or using soaps that strip the skin of its natural protective secretions may cause more outbreaks.  It is vital that washing is not excessive and a skin-friendly wash is used.


Your pharmacist can assist with choices of skin cleansing products and is knowledgeable of the choices of acne treatments available.  In some provinces, a pharmacist may be able to prescribe prescription medication for acne. Your Pharmachoice pharmacist can help with treatment options, prescribing where possible or may refer you to a physician or dermatologist.


Acne treatments often require weeks to months for noticeable improvement.  In many cases, treatment will initially reveal more lesions – making you look worse (sorry!) before improvement is realized.   It is important to persist with treatment for a good trial period so as not to rule out a regimen that may be working.


Many acne treatments require avoidance of the sun and may dry the skin.  Often, combination moisturizers with sunscreens should be used. Treating acne is akin to detective work, any information you can provide regarding where lesions are present, when are they worse, and what you have tried will help to narrow the best treatment for your condition.  Trials of treatments may be required to find the product which will work best. Your Pharmachoice pharmacist can help you select the treatment and complementary products you may require.

Christine Zagoruy
Biggar, SK