Warning: Sulfur smells like rotten eggs. But it is an effective ingredient at drying up pus-filled pimples and whiteheads (you’ve gotta take the good with the bad). It works by sucking up the oil. Sulfur is typically mixed with other active ingredients to get the most efficacy and fragrances to mask the strong scent. You can often find it in masks and spot treatments.
Isotretinoin: Accutane was the original brand name; there are now several generic versions in common use, including Sotret, Claravis, and Amnesteem. Isotretinoin is an excellent treatment for severe, scarring, persistent acne and has been used on millions of patients since it was introduced in Europe in 1971 and in the U.S. in 1982. It should be used for people with severe acne, chiefly of the cystic variety, that has been unresponsive to conventional therapies like those listed above. If taken in sufficient dosage, it should eliminate the need to continue the use of prescription drugs in most patients. The drug has many potential serious side effects and requires a number of unique controls before it is prescribed. This means that isotretinoin is not a good choice for people whose acne is not that severe but who are frustrated and want "something that will knock acne out once and for all." In order to use the drug, the prescribing physician, the patient, and the supplying pharmacy must be enrolled in the online "iPLEDGE PROGRAM." Used properly, isotretinoin is safe and produces few side effects beyond dry lips and occasional muscle aches. This drug is prescribed for five to six months at a dosage that has a high likelihood of preventing the return of acne. Fasting blood tests are monitored monthly to check liver function and the level of triglycerides, substances related to cholesterol, which often rise a bit during treatment but rarely to the point at which treatment has to be modified or stopped.
Isotretinoin is a particularly strong retinoid. It has a mixed reputation, but among dermatologists it’s the finisher for patients with severe acne. “If you have an acne patient that doesn’t respond to anything, [isotretinoin] can really be a game changer,” board-certified dermatologist Adam Friedman tells SELF. Commonly referred as Accutane even though that particular brand was discontinued, isotretinoin is an oral retinoid, and it has all the same benefits of a topical retinol but is even more effective.
It’s especially good for cystic acne in women and body acne in men. “Oral vitamin A basically shuts down your sebaceous glands. If you suppress [them] for a long enough period, you can cure someone of their acne, and about 50 percent do hit that cure rate,” Dr. Linkner says. A course of isotretinoin can take about six to nine months. Sometimes patients need to repeat the course at a higher dosage in order to truly eliminate acne.
Your skin needs to retain a lower, acidic-ranged pH to kill off germs and maintain its moisture barrier, which helps prevent acne. Regularly abusing baking soda can unnaturally raise your skin’s pH level, making it easier for bacteria to grow– kind of counterproductive, right? Plus, baking soda can cause micro-abrasions, teeny tiny cuts in your skin. This is like rolling out the welcome mat for acne and infections.
Acne medications work by reducing oil production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection or reducing inflammation — which helps prevent scarring. With most prescription acne drugs, you may not see results for four to eight weeks, and your skin may get worse before it gets better. It can take many months or years for your acne to clear up completely.