Acne treatment Acne treatment

Top Acne Medications

Top Acne Medications Top Acne Medications Top Acne Medications

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when follicles of the skin become clogged with sebum oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. Acne can range in severity from simple comedones (such as blackheads) to more serious forms of acne, including inflammatory cysts and nodes. Depending on how serious your acne is, there is a wide range of medications available for treatment.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is the first line of treatment for most forms of acne. It is an over-the-counter keratolytic agent, meaning that it has the ability to break down a protein found in skin called keratin. Because acne plugs are partially made up of keratin, salicylic acid can break down the plug and help clear up your acne. Salicylic acid also works on acne by slowing down the speed in which skin cells shed in your follicles, which can prevent future outbreaks.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyle peroxide can be found in both prescription and over-the-counter strengths, and works by killing the Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), that are associated with acne infections. The P. acnes bacteria is unable to survive in environments with high levels of oxygen. Benzyol peroxide introduces oxygen into the pores, killing the bacteria.


Erythromycin is also a commonly used medication for the treatment of acne. Erythromycin is an antibiotic that can be used both topically and orally to fight P. acnes. Like other antibiotics, there is a risk that the bacteria can become resistant to the medication; to prevent this, treatment is often limited to 6 months, or is combined with other antimicrobials, such as benzoyl peroxide, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is another commonly used treatment for acne. Azelaic acid targets three main causes of acne including correcting excess sebum production, remedying irregular skin cell shedding, and reducing the colonies of P. acnes on the skin.


Isotretinoin is one of the most effective medicinal treatments for acne, as it is the only FDA-approved acne medication that is capable of addressing all four main causes of acne: inflammation, bacteria, sebum production and skin cell shedding. Unfortunately, isotretinoin can cause severe birth defects. This has led the FDA to develop a strict monitoring program for this medication, particularly for women in their child-bearing years.

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