Types of Acne Creams
Acne is an unsightly skin condition characterized by pimples and blackheads. The American Academy of Dermatology says acne is often due to excess oil, clogged pores, bacteria and inflammation. There are a number of remedies that can help diminish or prevent recurring acne, including over-the-counter and prescription acne creams.
The National Institutes of Health say that benzoyl peroxide is used to treat mild to moderate acne. Products containing benzoyl peroxide, like Clearasil and ProActiv, are currently sold over-the-counter and by prescription. Other popular acne products containing the chemical are Benoxyl, Desquam, Oxy 10 and PanOxyl.
An article published by the International Journal of Dermatology found that products containing just 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide performed as well as products containing 5 or even 10 percent and had fewer side effects. Side effects can include dryness and peeling of the skin, tingling and slight stinging. Benzoyl peroxide is found in cream, gel and liquid formulas.
Salicylic acid is a keratolytic. Keratolytics peel off the top layer of skin. The National Institutes of Health say that topical salicylic acid reduces swelling and redness and unplugs blocked skin pores, allowing pimples to shrink. Products containing the acid can be used safely several times a day. During initial use, skin may become dry or irritated. If irritation occurs, use less product and gradually increase the amount used until the directed amount is reached. Products containing salicylic acid should be used only on the area affected. Occasionally, serious side effects may occur.
Salicylic acid can be found in many over-the-counter acne remedies such as many Neutrogena acne products, Clearasil acne treatments, and Stri-Dex acne products. Salicylic acid is also found in higher percentages in some wart removal products, but those products should not be used to treat acne.
The Mayo Clinic says that if acne doesn't respond to over-the-counter treatments like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, retinoids may help. Topical retinoids are non-steroidal derivatives of vitamin A. They work by encouraging cell turnover and preventing hair follicles on the skin from becoming plugged.
Products containing retinoids include over-the-counter retinol and prescription tretinoin, commonly sold as Retin-A. These products can cause a sunburn-like burning, peeling and irritation, and should be used sparingly to start. Retinoids can also cause photosensitivity, or hypersensitivity to the sun.
Topical antibiotics may be prescribed if an infection is present. Often, when follicles become plugged, bacterial overgrowth may occur, causing infection. Topical antibiotics work by killing excess bacteria on the skin. Erythromycin is a commonly prescribed topical antibiotic.
Often, a combination of products that include keratolytic agents, retinoids and antibiotics is required to achieve a significant decrease in acne frequency and severity.
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