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Over the Counter Acne Solutions

Over the Counter Acne Solutions Over the Counter Acne Solutions Over the Counter Acne Solutions


Over the counter acne solutions that can be purchased at your local drug store, grocery store, pharmacy or online. You do not have to have a doctor's prescription to buy over the counter acne medications. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Over the counter acne medications may cause initial skin irritation, dryness and flaking that often improve after the first month of therapy." Over the counter acne medications usually contain one of or a combination of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, resorcinol and alpha hydroxy acids. These medications are used to treat mild to moderate acne. If acne persists or is serious, consult with your doctor for further treatment.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a commonly used over the counter acne medication. It is available in gels, lotions, creams and soaps. It works by killing the bacteria that cause acne in the pores of the skin. For most effective results, states acnetalks, "don't wash your face for one hour after applying benzoyl peroxide and don't apply other medication for that duration." Benzoyl peroxide is relatively inexpensive--examples of products containing benzoyl peroxide include Clearasil, Oxy-10, Fostex and Neutrogena On-the-Spot. Benzoyl peroxide may bleach clothing.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a medication commonly found in over the counter acne medications. It can be purchased in salicylic acid treated pads and wipes, cloths, gels, creams and lotions. Salicylic acid works by helping to "slow down shedding of the cells inside the follicles, preventing clogging," according to Avoid getting products containing salicylic acid in the eyes. Examples of products containing salicylic acid include Stri-dex, Oxy Night Watch and Clearasil Nightstick.


Some over the counter acne solutions include sulfur as an ingredient. Sulfur works to remove the dead skin cells that clog the pores of the skin. Sulfur also helps to remove excess oils on the skin, preventing further clogging of skin pores. Products containing sulfur may have an odor. An example of an over the counter acne medication containing sulfur is Clearasil Adult Care.


Resorcinol is an ingredient found in over the counter acne medications. It rarely is used as a product by itself and is most often used in combination with sulfur. Resorcinol acts as an agent that breaks down hardened skin commonly found with blackheads associated with acne. It is available in lotions, creams, liquids and pastes. As with many other acne medications, products containing resorcinol can cause irritation to the skin. An example of a product containing resorcinol is Clearasil Adult Care.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Over the counter acne solutions may contain the alpha hydroxy acids glycolic and/or lactic acid. According to Mayo Clinic dermatologist, Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D., "glycolic acid is a natural acid found in sugar cane. Glycolic acid applied to your skin helps remove dead skin cells and unclog pores." Since these products help to remove the layer of dead skin cells, use sunscreen when using these products to protect newly exposed skin. Examples of products include Alpha Hydroxy AHA Souffle and Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion with SPF and Alpha Hydroxy.

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