Acne treatment Acne treatment

List of Acne Medicines

List of Acne Medicines List of Acne Medicines

Acne is a common skin problem that occurs when excess sebum oil from the skin combines with dead skin cells in your follicles, resulting in the formation of a blackhead or whitehead. Acne can then progress into more serious forms by the introduction of bacteria and inflammation to the acne lesion. Depending on how serious your acne outbreak is, there are several medicines you can use for treatment.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is one of the most common acne medications on the market and can be found in most over-the-counter treatment products. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent, meaning it has the ability to break down the protein keratin, which makes up a large portion of your skin cells. Because acne plugs are partially made up of skin cells, this breakdown of keratin frees the plug from the follicle, treating the acne.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is another common medicine that can be found in both non-prescription and prescription strengths. Benzoyl peroxide specifically targets a type of bacteria, known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), which plays a role in more serious cases of inflammatory acne. P. acnes cannot survive in environments with high levels of oxygen. Benzyol peroxide works by penetrating the plugged follicle and introducing oxygen into the environment of the P. acnes bacteria, killing it in the process.


A short course of antibiotics can also be used to treat more severe cases of acne. Antibiotics such as erythromycin and tetracycline are taken orally to kill the P. acnes bacteria. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, if used topically, erythromycin can also help relieve inflammation from more serious cases of acne. With antibiotics comes a risk for bacterial resistance to develop. To keep this from occurring, doctors will often prescribe other antimicrobials along with the antibiotics, such as benzoyl peroxide.


Retinoids can also be prescribed for treatment of acne and work by unclogging your follicles and preventing future acne outbreaks. This allows retinoids to be both a treatment and preventative medication that can be used on a regular basis. One of the most popular retinoids for acne treatment is isotretinoin which can be taken orally, as well as the topical retinoids adapalene, tretinoin and tazarotene.


For severe inflammatory cases of acne (such as cystic or nodular acne), corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation and prevent acne scarring. Corticosteroids can be used as topical creams or injected directly into the acne lesion.

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