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The Best Over-the-Counter Products for Severe Acne & Blemishes

The Best Over-the-Counter Products for Severe Acne & Blemishes

Suffering from severe acne and blemishes can make most people feel the need to rush to the dermatologist's office. This is usually a good idea, since they can tailor a treatment specifically to your skin. In the meantime, however, it's beneficial to try some over-the-counter acne treatments that are targeted toward more severe forms of acne. In all cases, if a treatment does not work within a few weeks, discontinue use and seek advice from your dermatologist.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is helpful in treating some cases of severe acne, especially if it is primarily caused by a build up of dead skin cells and oil in your pores. Typically, people with oily skin find the best results with benzoyl peroxide because it is so drying.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid can effectively treat severe acne. It works by helping dead skin cells slough off much more quickly. While this won't necessarily clear up current acne, it helps prevent new blemishes from forming by eliminating material that clogs pores.

Concentrated Blemish Creams

Some spot treatments are highly concentrated and effective in targeting individual blemishes. This can work well if you have a few large lesions but not breakouts all over your face. Apply the gel or cream morning and night to dry up the blemish.


Astringents sometimes contain alcohol, though you can find some that contain a milder substance like salicylic acid or fruit acids. Also known as toners, they work by eliminating dead skin cells and penetrating deep into the pores for a fuller clean. Popular brands include Oxy and Stridex, though in either case overuse can cause excessive drying of the skin.

Acne-Fighting Makeup

Makeup tends to get a bad wrap for exacerbating acne breakouts, but it can actually help your skin in some cases. Some makeup is infused with calming ingredients like tea tree oil or green tea to soothe red marks and blemishes or even salicylic acid to actively treat current breakouts.

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