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How do I Choose the Best over-The-Counter Acne Treatment?

Alex Tree
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Choosing the best over-the-counter acne treatment generally involves knowing the specifics of an individual acne treatment. For example, some treatments are better for oily skin, while others are effective only for a certain type of acne. Some acne treatments have hundreds of other uses besides use as an acne remedy, such as tea tree oil, but are slow to produce results. Others, like sulfur and resorcinol, are lesser known but commonly used and have side effects like dry or irritated skin. It is easiest to choose an over-the-counter acne treatment if you know what type of acne and skin you have.

Tea tree oil is an all-natural herbal acne treatment. It is an essential oil taken from an Australian tree and is normally diluted by the buyer before application. Tea tree oil can be purchased in pure form or diluted in combination with other herbs that might aid in relieving acne. This is usually a relatively inexpensive way to treat acne, and some studies have shown that it has less side effects than more widely used acne treatments.

Salicylic acid is a very common over-the-counter acne treatment that is sold in shower gels, creams, and many other forms. It is moderately effective at treating non-inflammatory acne, but it can irritate and dry skin in the process. If you have dry or sensitive skin, it may be best to experiment with other treatments and use salicylic acid as a last resort. This type of acne treatment is normally about the same price or cheaper than tea tree oil treatments.

Benzoyl peroxide acne products are routinely prescribed by dermatologists, but they can also be acquired without a prescription at a lesser strength. This acne treatment is often considered the most effective acne treatment available over the counter, and it can treat both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne. Most people see a difference within a week of using the cream, body wash, or whatever form the chemical was placed in.

Lastly, you may also want to consider sulfur and resorcinol as a potential over-the-counter acne treatment. While this type of treatment often smells unpleasant, it is generally considered effective. Like salicylic acid, sulfur, and resorcinol it is drying to the skin and should probably be combined with a daily moisturizer. It also comes in various forms, including ointments, soap, and gel.

If an over-the-counter acne treatment does not help, contact a dermatologist for further treatment. Dermatologists can prescribe treatments of a strength that might better treat your severity of acne, in addition to giving advice on how to better prevent acne in the future. While this is sometimes an expensive route, some acne is not responsive to over-the-counter treatment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and WiseGeek contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.

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Alex Tree

Alex Tree

Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and WiseGeek contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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