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Acne Medicine That Doesn't Dry out Skin

Acne Medicine That Doesn't Dry out Skin Acne Medicine That Doesn't Dry out Skin


The range of medications for acne is large, and treatment choice is determined largely by the severity of the acne and the risk of side effects. For those with moderate to severe acne, a dermatologist will likely recommend an oral or topical medication. Because oily skin is a culprit in acne, most medications are drying by their very nature. The challenge is minimizing the dryness and returning healthy moisture to the skin.

Types of Treatments

There are many prescription-strength acne medications, including benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, retinoids and antibiotics. The first three types can cause severe skin dryness. Antibiotics are not drying, but they are reserved for severe cases of acne.

What Medications Do

Dermatologists often recommend multiple drugs for a complete course of acne treatment. These treatment plans are quite effective at reducing acne, but many patients must endure the associated dry skin. Herbal or alternative medications may be an option for reducing skin dryness, but their efficacy for acne has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.


Instead of switching medications, you may choose to follow a cleansing plan that highlights moisturizing. First, use a mild facial cleanser that does not contain alcohol, and do not clean your face more than twice a day. Over-the-counter medications that contain alpha-hydroxy or salicylic acids cause dryness, so you can try removing them from your treatment plan. Also, use a noncomedogenic moisturizer before your acne medicine, as this will help to minimize dryness.


Your skin may be more dried out than you realize if you are using prescription-strength acne medications. If your skin stings or itches, it's too dry. Switching to a lower strength or alternative treatments may relieve some of the dryness. But it may also cause your acne to worsen.

Wait and See

Skin dryness with new acne medications will often clear up after the initial period of use. Give your medication a month to see if the dryness stabilizes.

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