Acne Services

An Overview

Acne is very common among adolescents and young adults, with nearly 85% of teenagers affected by acne at some point during their teenage years. Acne often persists into adulthood. It can result in permanent scarring, poor self-image, depression, and anxiety. Acne is caused by multiple factors including follicular plugging, the presence of bacteria (Cutibacterium acnes, formerly Propionobacterium acnes), oil production, immune response, hormones, diet as well as genetic and non-genetic factors. At Central Minnesota Dermatology, our licensed medical providers will work with you to find the best treatment regimen for you and your skin. Acne treatments can include topical therapies, oral therapies, lasers (1570 nm), blue light therapy, Morpheus8 microneedling, and physical modalities (chemical peels, comedone extraction). Often, effective therapy requires a multi-pronged approach. Make an appointment with one of our medical providers today and don’t let acne negatively impact your life any longer!

Topical Therapy

Topical therapies for the treatment of acne include benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics, topical retinoids, and topical antiandrogens. Benzoyl peroxide is available as a 4-10% wash and topical cream, gel, and lotion. Topical benzoyl peroxide can cause bleaching of clothing, pillowcases, and towels. Benzoyl peroxide 4-5% wash is recommended for use on the face and 10% is recommended for the body. There are several topical antibiotics available to treat acne including clindamycin, erythromycin, dapsone, and minocycline. Topical antibiotics are not recommended as a stand-alone treatment, therefore it is often recommended to use with a Benzoyl peroxide wash. Topical retinoids are used in acne to open plugged pores, decrease oil production, and improve the appearance of acne scars. There are several topical retinoids available for the treatment of acne including adapalene, tretinoin, and tazorac. Topical antiandrogen therapy can be effective in both male and female patients and work by decreasing oil production. Topical clascoterone (Winlevi) 1% cream is available to treat acne in patients who are 12 years of age and older. Topical spironolactone is also available from compounding pharmacies to treat hormonal acne in women.

At Central Minnesota Dermatology we have partnered with SKNV to offer several compounded topical therapies for our patients. SKNV is a pharmaceutical company that specializes in dermatological topical medications, designed specifically for sensitive skin. Their products do not contain unnecessary inactive ingredients, such as dyes, preservatives, and perfumes.

Oral Therapy

Oral therapy for the treatment of acne includes antibiotics, isotretinoin, and for female patients oral birth control pills and/or spironolactone. Long-term oral antibiotic therapy is not recommended due to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The medical providers at Central Minnesota Dermatology will work with patients to minimize the time they are taking oral antibiotics. However, low-dose doxycycline can be utilized for long-term therapy, as the dose is low enough that it does not create antibiotic resistance.

There are several oral birth control pills that are FDA-approved for the treatment of acne in women, especially if there is a hormonal component. The FDA-approved oral birth control pills are Yaz (drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol), Estrostep Fe (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol) and Ortho Tri-Cyclen (norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol). Studies have shown that oral birth control pills are effective in treating blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, acne nodules, and acne cysts. The medical providers at Central Minnesota Dermatology will help determine if an oral birth control pill is an appropriate treatment option for you. Spironolactone is a blood pressure medication that is used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure as well as acne, hair loss and hidradenitis suppurativa in women. Spironolactone is a form of hormonal therapy therefore, pregnancy is prohibited while taking this medication. Combining spironolactone with an oral birth control pill can improve effectiveness. However, taking spironolactone alone can also be effective if oral birth control pills are contraindicated. Spironolactone does require blood pressure and lab monitoring. Spironolactone can cause your kidneys to retain potassium, therefore it is recommended that you avoid foods, drinks, and supplements that are high in potassium.

Laser Therapy

There are several lasers that have been used to treat acne, such as potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) laser, pulse dye laser, fractionated and non-fractionated infrared lasers, and fractionated CO2 lasers. At Central Minnesota Dermatology, we utilize the Alma Hybrid laser, which is a combination of both CO2 and 1570 nm lasers. We offer the 1570 nm laser as a treatment option for patients with acne. This fractionated non-ablative laser creates coagulative and thermal effects in the skin resulting in a decrease in sebaceous gland oil production. The added benefit of treating with the 1570 nm laser is improvement in post-inflammatory pigmentation and mild acne scarring. For moderate to severe acne scarring, the CO2 laser is a more effective option. Please click the button below for more information.

Blue Light Therapy

Cutibacterium acnes is a gram-positive bacterium that is commonly found on human skin that is one of the causes of acne. Several acne treatments target this bacterium, including benzoyl peroxide, topical and oral antibiotics. Blue light therapy is also effective in treating acne. The blue light is absorbed by the bacteria causing a chemical reaction that kills the bacteria. Blue light therapy can be used as a stand-alone treatment, but it is a nice option for patients that cannot achieve clearance with topical therapies and do not want to take systemic medication. This treatment is also safe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Blue light therapy treats inflammatory acne (pimples) however, it does not treat comedonal acne (whiteheads and blackheads). You may continue using a topical retinoid while having blue light therapy. If you are taking a medication that increases the risk of sunburn (doxycycline, hydrochlorothiazide, methotrexate, NSAIDs, etc.) you should avoid blue light therapy.

At Central Minnesota Dermatology we offer blue light acne treatments for both male and female patients. This service is considered cosmetic and is not covered by insurance. We ask that you arrive with a clean face. If you do have make-up on, we will have you wash your face prior to treatment. You will wear goggles to protect your eyes during the treatment. The treatment lasts 16 minutes and 40 seconds. After the treatment, you will apply a moisturizer and sunscreen. Treatments are recommended weekly for the first 4-6 weeks until you start to see improvement. As acne improves, the treatments can be spaced further apart and can be discontinued at any time. 


Morpheus8 is a device that utilizes microneedling and radiofrequency (RF) energy to tighten skin, stimulate collagen production, and improve the appearance of scars. Morpheus8 is also very effective in treating active acne. The treatment not only kills the Cutibacterium acnes bacteria, but it also shrinks the sebaceous glands resulting in less oil production in the skin. Additionally, the Morpheus8 device improves the appearance of any acne scarring that may be present. At Central Minnesota Dermatology, we offer Morpheus8 treatments for acne. Please click the button below to learn more about Morpheus8.

Chemical Peels

For acne, medium-depth chemical peels are typically used. The most common chemicals used are glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Both glycolic and salicylic acid decrease the stickiness of the skin cells to promote increased cell turnover. Studies of both glycolic acid and salicylic acid chemical peels demonstrate a reduction in the number of inflammatory acne (pimples, nodules, cysts) and non-inflammatory acne (whiteheads, blackheads). However, only the salicylic acid chemical peel showed a sustained improvement in the acne for at least 2 months. Typical side effects of these chemical peels include erythema, dryness, peeling, and burning sensation. At Central Minnesota Dermatology we offer a salicylic acid peel for the treatment of acne. They can be purchased individually or can be combined with our blue light therapy as a package of 2 acne peels and 5 blue light treatments.

Miscellaneous Therapies

Intralesional Kenalog injections can be used to treat inflammatory acne pimples, nodules, and cysts. Injection of a steroid into individual lesions results in decreased inflammation, redness, swelling, and pain typically within 24 hours. Open and closed comedones (whiteheads and blackheads) can also be individually removed with comedone extraction. This is commonly referred to as acne surgery. At Central Minnesota Dermatology we offer both of these treatment procedures.

Refund Policy

We do not offer refunds on services rendered. Results for aesthetic services can vary significantly from person to person. We will do our best to achieve your desired result, but outcomes cannot be guaranteed. Patients are responsible for any additional treatments that may be needed to achieve and maintain desired outcomes. If a package is purchased and the patient would like a refund for unused treatments, the refund amount will be calculated as the package price less the number of treatments used at the individual treatment price.