Non-Prescription Acne Treatment
It is a myth that nothing can be done about most cases of acne. Medications have been shown to be effective treatments of acne. Not all medications are the same and not all medications have been proven to work. OTC medications may not work with especially difficult cases of acne and may need prescription medication.
Nonprescription Medications. There are numerous OTC topical medications out on the market today to treat mild cases of acne. They come in many forms including lotions, creams, gels, soaps, cleansers and pads. Topical medicine is applied directly to the acne lesions or to the entire area of affected skin. Not all of these OTC medications have been proven to work.
- Oxidizing agents such as can kill P. acnes, a normal flora bacteria of the skin known to be associated with acne. Benzoyl peroxide can also help prevent pores from being plugged by drying the skin. Though there seems to be no resistance being built against benzoyl peroxide by bacteria, overuse may cause allergic contact dermatitis.
- Exfoliating agents that have salicylic acid or glycolic acid promote peeling of the outermost layer of skin. It is thought that this peeling helps to remove the build-up of abnormal epithelial cells associated with acne plugs. Additionally, agents such as resorcinol, salicylic acid, and sulfur are known to help break down blackheads and whiteheads.
In some patients, OTC acne medicines may cause side effects such as skin irritation, burning, or redness. Some people find that the side effects lessen or go away with continued use of the medicine. In general though, OTC medications that seem harsh and irritating to your skin should be avoided. In fact, these preparations can actually worsen existing cases of acne. Severe or prolonged side effects should be reported to the doctor. Any OTC medications that ask you to pop your acne should be avoided as well.
OTC topical medicines are somewhat effective in treating acne when used regularly. Patients must keep in mind that it can take 8 weeks or more before they notice their skin looks and feels better.