Acne treatment Acne treatment

Topical Acne Treatments

Topical Acne Treatments

Topical acne treatments are typically the first line of defense against breakouts. The medication is applied directly to the pimples and can clear existing acne as well as prevent future breakouts. Make sure you speak to your doctor first about the type of topical treatment to use for the acne.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a mild acidic agent that can help get rid of dead skin cells. It can be used for mild forms of acne as well as reducing oily skin to prevent breakouts. Salicylic acid can cause numerous mild side effects when used to treat acne topically. Side effects include dry skin and skin irritation. Many products from Clean & Clear, Neutrogena and Clearisil contain salicylic acid and are available over the counter.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is available through over-the-counter gels, creams and lotions. It is often used for mild forms of acne and has the ability to get rid of microbes that help colonize acne on the surface of the skin. Benzoyl peroxide has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the redness and irritation caused by pimples and zits. Red, irritated and itchy skin is a potential side effect of benzoyl peroxide. Oxy, ZapZyt and Jan Marini are a few companies that produce over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide topical treatments.


There are several retinoids used as a treatment against acne. They include tretinoin, tazarotene and adapalene. Retinoids are a derivative of vitamin A, which has antibacterial effects on the skin. Retinoids are available through prescription and are effective for mild to moderate types of acne. Drying and a burning sensation on the skin is the most commonly reported side effect of retinoids.


Antibiotics are available in topical form by prescription only. By applying antibiotics, you can reduce the number of active acne on the surface of the skin as well as cease production in the hair follicles. Topical antibiotics can also reduce inflammation associated with acne. Antibiotics prescribed for acne treatment include clindamyci, benzaclin, sulfonamides and azelaic acid. Sun sensitivity and hives are potential side effects of this topical treatment method.

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