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The Best Prescriptions for Non-Inflammatory Acne

The Best Prescriptions for Non-Inflammatory Acne The Best Prescriptions for Non-Inflammatory Acne

Acne can be broken down into two main types: inflammatory acne, such as acne cysts and nodules; and non-inflammatory acne. Non-inflammatory acne consists of breakouts called comedones, commonly referred to as whiteheads and blackheads. Whiteheads are blockages in the pore that occur beneath the skin's surface, while blackheads are blockages that occur at the top of the pore, resulting in a visible black plug. Although many cases of comedones are treatable with over-the-counter products, some may still require prescription medications.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a type of beta hydroxy acid medication known as a keratolytic. Salicylic acid works on non-inflammatory acne by addressing skin-shedding problems. It achieves this by slowing down the rate in which cells are shed in your pores, reducing the amount of dead skin cells available to combine with sebum (oil) into plugs. Although commonly found in over-the-counter (OTC) acne products, salicylic acid also comes in prescription strength for cases of acne that do not respond to OTC treatment.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is also commonly used for both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne. Azelaic acid is a naturally made byproduct of the yeast that lives on your skin. When extracted for use in acne treatment products, azelaic acid works like salicylic acid as a keratolytic medication, correcting irregular skin-cell shedding. Azelaic has the added benefit of also killing the Proprionibacterium acnes bacteria associated with more serious acne outbreaks, as well as has the ability to help reduce inflammation.


Retinoids, such as isotretinoin, are also common prescription medications used for the treatment of non-inflammatory acne. Isotretinoin works by shrinking the sebaceous glands, resulting in less oil production. Less oil production results in less material available to clog pores. According to the New Zealand Dermatological Society, isotretinoin is given orally over the course of 16 to 30 weeks, but may be prescribed longer, depending on the seriousness of the acne.


Contraceptives can also be used to treat women with chronic problems with non-inflammatory acne. Although commonly used to prevent pregnancy, the effects contraceptives have on the hormones of the body also help regulate and reduce the oil produced by the sebaceous glands. Less oil production results in fewer clogged pores.

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