Acne Treatment Options

Acne Treatment Options

Acne is a real problem for many people, whether experienced as an occasional breakout or as chronic, cystic acne. The professional acne treatments offered by our knowledgeable medical dermatologists and skilled practitioners at Nashville Skin provide patients with clinically proven techniques that restore clear complexions by reducing the signs of acne breakouts and scarring.

What is Acne?

Acne, which is also known as acne vulgaris, is a common problem affecting the skin in the form of pimples, pustules, cysts or nodules. Acne is most commonly experienced by people aged 15-25, but up to 55% of older adults suffer from consistent acne outbreaks and suffer from acne scarring as a result.

Breakouts and blemishes occur when hair follicles and pores become clogged with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. If the follicle or pore remains clogged, it will enlarge and fill with more oil leading to the creation of a visible bump, most commonly referred to as a pimple. The bump can then become colonized with bacteria, leading to redness, irritation, and inflammation.

Blackheads, whiteheads, papules, and other forms of acne are most commonly found in areas of the body that have a higher concentration of hair follicles and oil glands, like the T-zone on the face (forehead, nose, chin), chest, and back. While breakouts can be annoying and embarrassing, if left without medical dermatology, they can lead to unsightly scarring.

What Causes Pimples and Breakouts?

While acne is most often caused by genetics, it can be a continual and complex problem based on many factors including hormones, stress, medications, cosmetics, environmental influences, and bacteria that lives on the skin known as P. acnes bacteria. Because there are numerous causes and types of acne, simply changing daily skin care habits is typically not enough to improve the complexion alone. Acne treatment plans need to be tailored to a patient’s unique complexion needs.

Our team of board-certified dermatologists and skilled mid-level practitioners at Nashville Skin can create a customized treatment plan to not only improve the conditions that lead to a patient’s acne breakouts but also rebuild the complexion marred by acne.

How is Acne Diagnosed?

Dermatologists typically diagnose acne based on the type, severity, and the number of acne lesions, which are classified into four grades:

Grade 1 – Mild

Mild acne consists of non-inflammatory lesions, such as blackheads (open comedones) and may or may not develop into more severe breakouts.

Grade 2 – Moderate

Moderate acne appears as a greater number of blemishes that include whiteheads (closed comedones) and slight redness and swelling. There may also be raised red bumps (papules) and oozing pimples (pustules).

Grade 3 – Severe

Severe acne is characterized by an even greater number of blemishes and greater inflammation. The papules and pustules may even merge together, creating a larger patch of infected skin rather than a single affected pore.

Grade 4 – Cystic

Cystic acne consists of deep blemishes or cysts that are inflamed, tender to the touch, and contains pus or fluid in some cases. Hard, painful bumps, known as nodules, may be present as well, but do not contain any fluid. Cystic acne can last for several weeks or months and may even become dormant and reappear later on.

How Are Pimples and Acne Scars Treated?

Over-the-counter treatments can only provide relief for mild forms of acne. Professional medical treatments are effective in improving acne and reducing the appearance of existing acne scars and can target both hormonal and environmental causes of acne, such as bacteria, excess oil production, and inflammation.

With the right combination of treatments at Nashville Skin, a comprehensive plan can help reduce current breakouts, prevent acne from forming, and improve redness and discoloration. The latest innovations in acne skin care, such as medical grade chemical peels, photodynamic therapy, lasers and acne medication can finally provide men and women who suffer from breakouts and acne scars a clear and beautiful complexion.

Medical Grade Peels

A chemical peel is a topical treatment that restores the skin’s appearance and helps patients put their best face forward. A chemical peel involves applying a chemical solution to the skin, which makes it “blister” and eventually peel off, leaving smoother, blemish-free skin.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic or light-based therapy is a cutting-edge treatment that uses a topical photo-sensitizer called Levulan or aminolevulinic acid (ALA), a special light, and molecular oxygen to selectively destroy abnormal cells and improve skin disorders.

Laser and Broad Based Light Treatments

Laser and broad based light (BBL) treatments use concentrated beams of light to safely and effectively treat both active acne and the unsightly scarring and uneven texture left behind by blemishes. When administered by a skilled dermatologist or practitioner, laser treatments can resurface the skin, eliminate harmful bacteria that contributes to breakouts, and trigger cell turnover, which leads to clearer, healthy skin.

Acne Medications

Acne medication can significantly improve the severity of acne breakouts. The most effective treatment plans include a combination of a topical and oral medications, which target existing breakouts as well as internal causes, such as hormones.

Topical Acne Medications include combinations of tretinoin, adapalene, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and topical dapsone.

Certain oral antibiotics can help reduce breakouts. Oral contraceptive birth control pills can also help regulate the hormones that contribute to oily skin and acne, alleviating symptoms and reducing breakouts.

For moderate to severe acne that does not respond to other treatments, the oral medication Accutane (isotretinoin) can significantly clear the skin. Accutane causes a number of potential side effects and should be monitored by skin care specialists, such as the team at Nashville Skin, to ensure the best possible results.

The Benefits of Medical Grade Acne Treatments

While results can vary with acne treatments, medical grade options offer many benefits, including:

  • Proven clinical efficacy and results
  • Smooths and clears existing chronic and cystic acne
  • Prevents further acne outbreaks
  • Reduces the appearance of acne scars and discoloration
  • Safe, minimally invasive with little down-time
  • Treatments can be customized for individual needs


Q. How do dermatologists treat and prevent acne?

A. While results may vary, clinical studies have shown that professional dermatologic treatments are effective at targeting the conditions that cause breakouts, such as the overproduction of sebum (oil,) the presence of bacteria, inflammation, and the overproduction of skin cells.

Q. Can medical acne treatments help improve severe acne?

A. Yes. In addition to chemical peels, chronic cystic acne can be effectively treated with prescription acne medication, photodynamic therapy, cortisone injections, and other professional treatments that are only available from skilled and certified dermatologists.

Q. Can dermatologists improve hyperpigmentation caused by breakouts?

A. Yes, pigmentation caused by acne can be improved with a combination of medical-grade treatments like peels, lasers, and topical medications.

Q. Is there downtime with professional acne treatments?

A. Most acne treatments are relatively quick and convenient. While results may vary, typically, medical-grade acne treatments have few side effects and minimal to no downtime.

How Do I Get Started with Medical Grade Acne Treatments in Nashville?

Contact us today at one of our four convenient Nashville locations (Green Hills/21st Avenue S, Southern Hills Medical Center, Centennial Medical Center, or Nolensville), or our Clarksville office to schedule a formal evaluation to determine your unique acne treatment needs.

Next, read about Eczema & Dermatitis.

Learn More About Our Medical Dermatology Treatments