Acne treatment Acne treatment

List of Different Acne Medications

List of Different Acne Medications List of Different Acne Medications List of Different Acne Medications

Dealing with blackheads, pimples or other acne lesions on the face can be difficult when you are unsure what options are available. Acne lesions can vary in severity from comedones to inflammatory lesions, with each type of acne responding differently to certain types of medications. This provides several treatment options ranging from over-the-counter products to prescription medications.

Benzoyl Peroxide

One of the most common medications for acne is benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial agent that penetrates acne-plugged pores and introduces oxygen to acne-related bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). The P. acne bacteria is unable to survive in higher levels of oxygen, allowing the benzoyl peroxide to effectively reduce populations of the bacteria, resulting in a reduction in acne inflammation. Tea tree oil is a natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide that is just as effective, but works more slowly, states the Mayo Clinic.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is another common medication for the treatment of acne. The plugs that cause acne breakouts are largely made up of a protein called keratin. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent that is capable of breaking down the keratin in the acne plug, freeing the follicle and clearing up the acne. Salicylic acid also helps slow down the sloughing of skin cells in the follicles, preventing future outbreaks of acne, according to the New Zealand Dermatological Society.


For more serious cases of acne, antibiotics can be used to help kill off acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation. Antibiotics can be used either topically or orally and include clindamycin, erythromycin, doxycycline and tetracycline.


Retinoids are another course of drug treatment for acne breakouts. Retinoids are synthesized from vitamin A and work by regulating epithelial skin cell growth. This allows retinoids to speed up the rate in which skin cells slough away, helping to unclog pores and prevent comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) from forming. Common retinoids include adapalene, tazarotene, tretinoin and isotretinoin. Retinoids have been connected with possible birth defects, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, making it important to inform your doctor if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.


For severe cases of inflammatory acne, such as acne cysts and nodules, corticosteroid injections may be needed to reduce inflammation before permanent damage occurs. Corticosteroids are injected directly into acne lesions, reducing inflammation before an acne lesion can burst and cause scar tissue.

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