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About Topical Acne Medications

About Topical Acne Medications About Topical Acne Medications


Topical acne medications are commonly used to treat and prevent blemishes. Found over-the-counter or in prescription strengths, these medications are applied to the face daily, working to kill bacteria and prevent new lesions from forming.

Benzoyl Peroxide Treatments

Benzoyl peroxide has been used for decades. Touted for its ability to destroy bacteria on the skin, it is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter treatments as well as prescription formulas.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is another popular main ingredient, used in a multitude of topical acne treatments sold over-the-counter. The acid works to increase skin shedding, helping to keep pores clear and acne at bay.


Topical antibiotics for acne, such as minocycline, doxycycline and tertracycline, are effective treatments for moderate to severe acne. Available by prescription, these treatments are often combined with other active ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide.


Retinoids are topical acne treatments derived from vitamin A. These highly effective treatments are available in gels and creams. They work to increase cell turnover, unclogging pores and renewing the skin.


While many of these topical medications are effective at clearing acne, side effects can be bothersome. Benzoyl peroxide may cause allergic reactions in some individuals, while retnoids can promote redness and excessive peeling. Decreasing applications and avoiding using other acne products may help reduce irritation.

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