What is the Best Acne Remedy?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 January 2020
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The best acne remedy depends on the type of acne a person has, and some individuals respond to treatment better than others. Some patients obtain good results from using over-the-counter (OTC) treatments, such as salicylic acid. Others may require stronger prescription acne remedies, such as isotretinoin or oral antibiotics.

An individual may attempt to treat a mild case of acne with OTC skin creams and topical solutions that dry pimples and blemishes. For example, benzoyl peroxide is found in a range of OTC acne medications and helps dry up oils that contribute to acne. This ingredient also works to get rid of the dead skin cells that help to clog a person’s pores and cause pimples. Possible side effects of its use are excessive dryness, reddened skin, and increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light.

Sometimes acne patients use OTC products that contain salicylic acid to treat mild acne. Products that contain this ingredient help the skin to shed dead skin cells that lead to clogged pores. It can cause mild irritation, however.

When OTC products don’t prevent or significantly reduce acne blemishes, an individual may turn to a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in skin-related conditions, for help. There are many medications a dermatologist may prescribe, depending on the type of acne, the patient’s skin type and age, and the success or failure of past treatment methods.


Dermatologists often prescribe topical creams and lotions for patients with acne that doesn’t respond well to OTC medications. Among the most commonly prescribed topical medications are tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene. These are vitamin A derivatives that work by promoting the shedding and new growth of skin cells. Topical antibiotics also may be used to kill skin bacteria. Some doctors even give their patients prescription strength benzoyl peroxide for treating acne.

Sometimes an oral antibiotic is the most effective acne remedy for moderate-to-severe cases. Oral antibiotics work by killing bacteria internally and reducing the inflammation associated with acne. Some people experience nausea or skin discoloration while taking oral antibiotics. Prolonged use may cause antibiotic resistance.

For those with severe acne that hasn’t been helped with other treatments, many dermatologists recommend isotretinoin as an acne remedy. This prescription medication is very strong and is usually used in only the worst cases. Isotretinoin decreases oil production in the skin, reduces dead cell buildup and inflammation, and kills bacteria inside the skin. It may cause side effects, such as nosebleeds and impaired night vision. Some people who take it may develop depression, and it is not prescribed for pregnant women because it may cause birth defects.



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