Heat acne treatments use warmth to help dissolve breakout-causing bacteria lodged under the skin. Such treatments can be performed at home using a specially designed device or under the care of a skin specialist. Your budget, preferences and the severity of your breakouts are key factors in choosing the best treatment plan for your needs.
Treatments usually employ a small device that resembles an electric shaver, but without the blades. Heat acne treatment devices are often sold in drug stores, department stores and via the Internet. The cost of an at-home device varies, with replacement tips and medication refills costing extra. Dermatologist office visit costs also vary, and such treatment may or may not be covered by insurance.
Devices with adjustable heat levels may be your best option, because they allow for greater control and comfort. Home devices are often used with over-the-counter medications such as salicylic acid, so it's also a good idea to check ingredients lists for any known allergens or irritants. In a medical office, a heat acne treatment might use the same kind of device as those available for home use, though some professionals may pair it with additional therapies that use both light and heat or lasers.
Convenience is another consideration when deciding on the best heat acne treatment. Home treatments may be more convenient, because they can be done on one's own schedule and without traveling back and forth to a specialist's office. At the same time, you may prefer professional treatment, because professionals have access to prescription medications that are not available over the counter, and there may not be as much trial and error in a professional treatment plan as there might be in an at-home plan.
Side effects from heat acne treatments are considered minimal, whether performed at home or by a dermatologist. Depending on the sensitivity level of your skin, you might feel some discomfort. If used improperly, a heat acne treatment may cause small red marks on the face that actually accentuate breakouts. When choosing your best option, a device with clear and easy instructions may prevent misuse and the redness that comes with it.
Regardless of which heat acne treatment you choose, there is no guarantee that even the best will be effective. That stems, in part, from the treatment being a relatively new option in acne care as of 2011 — it hasn't been around long enough to know just how effective it is or isn't. Part of it also is that no one treatment works on everyone's acne.