HOW DO SYSTEMIC ACNE AGENTS WORK?
Systemic acne agents are a class of drugs used to treat nodular acne that has not responded to other treatments. Acne treatment can include a single or combination of oral medication, topical medication, lifestyle changes, and medical procedures. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S. Although it is not a life-threatening condition, it can be painful, can cause emotional distress, can affect self-esteem, and may cause permanent physical scarring.
Systemic acne agents work in the following ways:
- Acne is a result of clogged pores, wherein oil, dirt, and dead skin cells clog the pores, leading to acne and localized infections.
- Systemic acne agents target the clogged pores by encouraging the shedding of dead skin cells.
- They inhibit sebum production (high amounts of sebum can lead to severe acne), limit bacterial growth, and reduce inflammation.
- They also regulate the hormone levels that can help improve acne in females.
- In addition, they prevent and reduce the scarring of the skin.
Systemic acne agents are usually taken twice daily for 15 to 20 weeks.
HOW ARE SYSTEMIC ACNE AGENTS USED?
Acne may worsen during the first few days of taking these drugs, and it may take up to 1 to 2 months before you notice the full benefit of these medications. They may be used to treat:
- Severe recalcitrant nodular acne (characterized by hard, painful acne lesions deep under the skin)
- Acne vulgaris (the presence of blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of pimples on the skin)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (a severe form of premenstrual syndrome that prevents functioning in normal daily life)
WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF SYSTEMIC ACNE AGENTS?
While taking systemic acne agents, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun; make sure to use a sun protection cream.
Common side effects include:
- Dry mouth/skin
- Chapped lips
- Pruritis (itching)
- Cheilitis (a condition that manifests as red, dry, scaling, and itchy lips)
- Xerostomia (dry mouth resulting from reduced or absent saliva flow)
- Skin fragility
- Mood changes
- Stomach upset
Other rare side effects include:
- Severe headache
- Dry nose
- Arthralgia (pain in one or more joints)
- Vision changes
- Menstrual irregularities
- Decreased bone mineral density
- Conjunctivitis (inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that lines eyelid and eyeball)
- Abdominal pain/discomfort
- Thinning of hairs
- High blood pressure
- Epistaxis (bleeding from the nose)
Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.
WHAT ARE NAMES OF SYSTEMIC ACNE AGENTS?
Drug names include:
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