Acne treatment Acne treatment

Top 10 Acne Medications

Top 10 Acne Medications Top 10 Acne Medications Top 10 Acne Medications

Acne is a common skin ailment that can range in severity from simple comedones, such as blackheads and whiteheads, to severe inflammatory acne lesions, such as acne cysts or nodules. Depending on the severity of your acne outbreak, there are acne medications, both over the counter and prescription, that can be used for treatment.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic is one of the most common acne medications used in both prescription and non-prescription products. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent that works on acne by slowing the shedding of dead skin cells in the pores. This prevents acne plugs from having the necessary material to form.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide can also be found in both prescription and non-prescription acne medications. Benzoyl peroxide is an antimicrobial agent that work directly on the Propionibacterium acnes (P. acne) bacteria believed to be associated with inflammatory acne breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide introduces oxygen into the pores, which P. acnes cannot survive in.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is a topical prescription medication that addresses three different causing factors of acne. Azelaic acid first acts as an antimicrobial agent against P. acnes bacteria colonies. The prescription also helps control irregular skin cell shedding in the pores, as well as helps reduce inflammation.


Erythromycin is a common antibiotic used to treat inflammatory acne. Erythromycin's antibiotic properties help reduce the levels of P. acnes bacteria. When used topically, erythromycin can also help relieve inflammation in acne lesions.


Clindamycin is another common antibiotic used to treat acne. Clindamycin is a semi-synthetic topical antibiotic that works by reducing P. acnes bacteria levels in the pores, as well as helps reduce acne lesion inflammation.


Tetracycline is an oral antibiotic used to treat acne. This medication works by reducing the amount of inflamed papules and pustules of acne on the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, tetracycline can be used in low doses over a long period of time to help prevent acne lesions from forming.


Contraceptives are also used to treat acne breakouts in women. Although more commonly used to prevent pregnancy, the hormonal changes that contraceptives provide while using the medication, also help control the production of sebum from the sebacious glands. Less sebum production results in less acne breakouts.


Adapalene is a synthetic retinoid medication that can also be used to treat acne. Adapalene is derived from vitamin A, and can be used to help unclog acne affected pores, as well as help reduce inflammation.


When less potent retinoids, such as adapalene, are inadequate in treating a case of acne, isotretinoin may be prescribed. Isotretinoin is also a retinoid, but is taken orally over the course of 16 to 20 weeks. Isotretinoin is one of the most popular forms of treatment due to its ability to treat all four main causes of acne including P. acnes bacteria, inflammation, irregular skin cell shedding, and overproduction of sebum.


Corticosteroids can also be used for seriously inflamed acne lesions. Acne lesions, such as cysts or nodules, can build pressure and burst, resulting in serious scar tissue. Corticosteroids are injected directly into the affected area to reduce the inflammation and pressure before bursting can occur.

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