Acne Treatment on a Budget

Dr. Hema Sundaram Health Guide
  • Being on a budget doesn't mean that you have to live with your pimples - and risk permanent scarring from uncontrolled acne. Here are five tips for clearing your skin without clearing out your wallet.


    1. Don't pay for the packaging... or for big-name celebrity endorsements. What's inside your tube of acne cream is more important than fancy packaging or having a famous celebrity to promote it. Prescription acne medications are not only more effective; they're usually less expensive than heavily publicized mail-order treatments. For example, Proactiv contains the same ingredients you'll find in a five dollar drugstore "zit cream" but carries a hefty price tag that reflects the multi-million dollar cost of the celebrities who are paid to endorse it. This New York Times article discusses how Proactiv raked in 850 million dollars last year "by motivating consumers to trade up from a $4.99 drugstore product like Clearasil, made with the antibacterial agent benzoyl peroxide, to a 60-day, three-part regimen, also made with benzoyl peroxide, that costs $39.95 for ongoing subscribers."

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    2. Get personal attention: Get the most bang for your buck - and make the best use of your time - by consulting a board certified dermatologist, or your family practitioner or internist if he/she has special expertise in acne, for individualized treatment that addresses your own unique acne pattern and skin type. This is more cost and time-efficient than buying one drugstore or mail-order treatment after another in search of one that will actually work for your acne. Drugstore and mail-order acne treatments are not only weaker than prescriptions; they tend to have a "cookie-cutter" approach rather than being individualized. This can lead to problems such as over-drying of your skin, resulting in skin flaking, redness - and more acne flare-ups. An added advantage: Your dermatologist can often give you free samples of the acne treatment he/she is prescribing for you, so that you can try it out and make sure it works for you before you invest in purchasing it.


    3. Make your treatments work for you: Ask your doctor about acne treatments that do more than one job for you. For example, I've written previously about two multi-tasking treatments that give dramatic results for my patients. The first is the Tretin-X system. It contains the same prescription acne treatment as Retin-A but it also includes a free cleanser and moisturizer containing antioxidant green tea extract and co Q 10. So you get your skincare products for free with your prescription treatment. Added advantage: if you get a rebate coupon from your dermatologist then the whole Tretin-X system, containing your prescription treatment and your skincare products, is often free. The second multi-tasking acne treatment is ColoreScience medical-grade mineral make-up, which is available from dermatologists' offices. This make-up is rapidly applied with a special brush for long-lasting, light and natural coverage of acne and scars - and it is actually good for your skin: The natural minerals in ColoreScience make-up reduce inflammation and can dramatically clear acne.


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    4. Make the most of prescription rebates: Did you know that you can get rebate coupons from your dermatologist for a number of acne medications? The coupons can be used to cover your pharmacy co-pay if you have health insurance so that, in many cases, your medication is free. If you don't have insurance, the coupons will reduce the price you pay for your medication. Some manufacturers of prescription acne therapy also provide free medication for those who don't have medical insurance and cannot afford the medication otherwise; this service can be requested by your dermatologist.


    5. Go natural: Make your own natural acne face mask for pennies as follows: Mix two tablespoons of natural yogurt with live cultures with a tablespoon of honey (If the yogurt is thin and runny, you can thicken it by straining it overnight through muslin.) Add a drop or two of neem oil (available from health food stores - you can omit it if you can't find it). Spread over your face for fifteen minutes then wash off and moisturize your face. The yogurt contains lactic acid, to gently exfoliate your skin and improve both acne and scars. The honey and neem oil are antimicrobial. Make a natural salt facial scrub for oily, acne-prone skin as follows: Mix 4 tablespoons sea salt with lemon juice until it forms a paste. Add a few drops of extra virgin olive oil. Apply to your face with your fingertips, then gently massage your skin for one minute with slow circular movements. Rinse off thoroughly with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry. The sea salt naturally exfoliates your skin and is antibacterial. The lemon juice is antibacterial and helps to fade discolorations and scars. The olive oil is an antioxidant and helps to prevent skin irritation.


Published On: July 21, 2008