Acne Treatments - Aczone

Information about using Aczone to treat acne |

What is Aczone?

Aczone is a relatively new prescription topical for the treatment of acne. It is a 5% dapsone gel, used to treat inflammatory acne lesions. Aczone works best on pimples that are big, red, and inflamed.

Aczone's own website claims that Aczone is "not a benzoyl peroxide (BPO), not an antibiotic. It's something all on its own that helps control acne in a gentle way and helps make your skin clearer." However, dapsone, the active ingredient in Aczone, is a sulfone antibiotic, so it's not necessarily wrong to call Aczone a topical antibiotic gel.

At any rate, Aczone is antibacterial, antiinfective, and anti-inflammatory. It is one of the gentler prescription acne products out there, so it is often prescribed for acne patients with sensitive skin who cannot tolerate retinoids or drying actives like benzoyl peroxide. (Aczone is also suitable for those with Rosacea, though recent clinical trials showed that Aczone is not as effective of a treatment for Rosacea compared to something like Metrogel.)

Many people who are at their wits end with acne treatments find that Aczone helps to clear their skin. Aczone keeps pimples from getting bigger, dries up zits, and makes spots go away faster. However, it is not that effective for preventing acne from occurring in the first place. Nor is it an effective treatment for blackheads, clogged pores, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Nonetheless, Aczone helps treat acne without causing extra irritation.

How to Use Aczone

Before Aczone was reformulated, it was a clear gel with a gritty texture (kind of like Retin-A Micro). Now, Aczone is a smooth, opaque, gel-like lotion. While the active ingredient is still the same, lots of people have found that this new formulation of Aczone doesn't seem work as well as the old formulation.

To use Aczone, you apply a pea-sized amount of the product over the troubled areas of your skin. A thin layer of product on the places you get acne is all you need. If you use too much Aczone, it can leave a sticky residue, ball up under other skin care products, or cause unnecessary irritation.

Aczone should ideally be the first thing you put on your skin after cleansing. You can use moisturizers and other skin care products after you put on Aczone, but you have to wait 20-30 minutes until your skin completely absorbs the treatment before using anything else on top.

Aczone is usually prescribed in the following scenarios:

  1. Aczone + Oral Antibiotic
  2. Aczone + Oral Antibiotic + Retinoid

In the first case, when Aczone is prescribed along with an oral antibiotic, you should use Aczone twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. (However, if you are first starting out with Aczone, you might want to use it only once a day to see how your skin reacts.) In the second scenario, when Aczone is prescribed with an oral antibiotic and topical prescription retinoid, Aczone should be applied in the morning and the retinoid at night. You can use Aczone twice a day, even with a retinoid (if your skin tolerates it), by applying it before the retinoid.

When to Expect Clear Skin

Unfortunately, Aczone doesn't work for everyone. Everyone's skin is different and responds differently to different things. For some people, Aczone is an absolute acne life saver, while for others, Aczone is pretty much useless for their breakouts. Like with all acne treatments and skin care products, it depends on your skin and how it reacts to the treatment.

After reading through hundreds of user reviews for Aczone, the general consensus seems to be that Aczone starts to clear skin rather quickly. It seems to be especially good at preventing spots from turning into cystic pimples. About 1/3 of the people who use Aczone start to see their acne improve in 1-2 weeks, with their skin noticeably clearing in 1-2 months. Another 1/3 experience clearer skin after using Aczone for several months (4-6 months). The remainder of the people who use Aczone feel like it doesn't do anything for their acne at all.

If and when Aczone works for your acne is largely individual. How long it takes for Aczone to work varies across the board, but if you see zero results after 12 weeks of consistent use, it's time to ditch Aczone and use another acne treatment instead. The good news is, so far it seems like more people like Aczone than dislike it.

Side Effects and Precautions

Aczone is pretty mild and non-irritating. It's odorless, spreads easily, and doesn't stain clothes. Aczone is also safe to use in the morning. However, common side effects include dryness, redness (erythema), oiliness, and peeling/flaking skin.

There are also other precautions to be aware of. In general, you shouldn't use Aczone if:

  • You are 12 years old or younger.

  • You are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breast-feeding. Aczone's effects on fetuses and babies are not yet known, so it's better not to risk it.

  • You have glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Oral dapsone can cause hemolysis and hemolytic anemia. Although your skin doesn't absorb that much dapsone when it's applied topically as Aczone, it may still put you at risk if you have G6PD deficiency.  

  • You are using benzoyl peroxide. Using benzoyl peroxide with Aczone can cause your skin to turn yellow or orange. Use one or the other, but not together.

Some people also claim that Aczone caused their acne to get worse. However, since Aczone is a topical antibiotic, purging is not very likely. If you are experiencing any other adverse reactions from using Aczone, stop using it immediately and contact your dermatologist for more information.

Is Aczone right for you?

So what does this mean? Will Aczone work for you? If your insurance covers it and you can afford it, it doesn't hurt to give it a try. While Aczone can be rather expensive, most dermatologistsl offer free samples and/or coupons for additional discounts.

Aczone is one of the gentler prescription acne treatments, but you still have to go through trial-and-error to see if it will work to clear your skin. You also have to figure out what is causing your acne. For instance, if your acne is caused by hormones, Aczone might not be that effective for clearing your skin. However, if you've tried everything to clear your skin but nothing has worked or your skin can't handle other kinds of acne treatments, it's definitely worth giving Aczone a shot.

Last updated: October 10, 2012

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