OUTSIDE HELP: ‘TRADITIONAL’ HEALING THERAPIES
External Creams and Salves
There are over the counter treatments and there are stronger prescription cleansers and astringents, lotions and gels your doctor may prescribe for you. The more you know about what you are using, the better it will work for you.
External Creams and Salves – Peeling Agents – Keratinolytics (plug removers)
Keratinolytics work to prevent cell plugs from forming in the first place.
Tretinoin or all-trans-Retinoic Acid was made popular in recent years with the promotion of Retin A®. Tretinoin however has been used for more than 30 years and is a Vitamin A based treatment that helps your skin by stimulating production of collagen. It works by decreasing the ‘stickiness’ of the pores walls which means less plugging by sebum. It also increases proper cell production (Desquamanation and Keratinization) helping the expulsion of blockages. It thins the Stratum Corneum (outer layer of epidermis) allowing better penetration of topical antibiotics. It is usually applied before bedtime and can cause irritation.
Other peeling agents and exfoliants include: [Airol, Eudyna, Stieva A], Salicylic Acid [Stridex], elemental Sulphur, Resorcinol, Glycolic Acid, Trichloroacetic Acid, and Benzoyl Peroxide which also help to remove excess surface debris through drying or oxidation.
External Creams and Salves – Topical Drying Agents
Topical drying agents work to dry up surface oil. Common ones include Beta hydroxy acids like Salicylic Acid (from white willow bark) and Benzoyl Peroxide which also help to remove excess surface debris through oxidation. The popular Proactive System that you see advertised on late night TV ads with a host of celebrated actresses is based on Benzoil Peroxide.
External Creams and Salves – Topical Antibiotics (bacteria removers)
Benzoyl Peroxide is available in a lotion [Benoxyl, Oxy 10] or in stronger gel form [Benzagel, Persa-Gel, Desquam-X]. It is usually the first agent prescribed to treat acne and works to defeat surface bacteria and to help exfoliation through oxygenation and drying. It is available over-the-counter from 2.5 through 10 percent and is usually applied twice daily.
Several Japanese studies have found a link between use of benzoyl peroxide and skin tumors in mice exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Although the FDA has not given official regulatory notice, a sun warning has been considered. Side effects include redness and scaling.
Erythromycin[Eryderm, Erygel, Emgel, Erycette, T-Stat] is usually prescribed during pregnancy. Clindamycin [Cleocin T], Sulfacetamide, and Meclocycline [Meclan] are all other topical antibiotics. And a new treatment is Azeleic Acid which works both as an antibiotic and Keratinolytic.
One of the main problems with topical antibiotics is they have difficulty penetrating the skin due to the fact that they do not readily dissolve in lipids (Remember the skin’s oils are made up of lipids). This is unfortunate, because a topical antibiotic is such a good idea. They just can’t get through the sebum plugged follicles to get to the bacteria.
External Creams and Salves – Hydrocortisone
Hydrocortisone is a synthetic drug which helps to reduce inflammation and reduce itchiness and is often prescribed as a topical cream to treat Perioral Dermatitis. Prednisolone is a weaker version and Dexamethasone is a much stronger topical anti-inflammatory drug.