Acne treatment Acne treatment

Medicines for Getting Rid of Acne

Medicines for Getting Rid of Acne Medicines for Getting Rid of Acne

If you have acne, chances are that you've tried over-the-counter products in an effort clear up your skin. You may even be considering seeing a dermatologist for more powerful acne medications. Before booking that appointment, take the time to educate yourself about what kinds of prescription medications are available, as well as their risks and benefits.

Oral Antibiotics

One of the more commonly prescribed types of acne medications are oral antibiotics. According to AcneNet, oral antibiotics are prescribed to lower the population of P. acnes bacteria, which contributes to acne breakouts. Oral antibiotics are often started at a higher dose and then decreased as the acne begins to clear. Erythromycin, tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline are examples of antibiotics prescribed for acne. The most common side effects are antibiotic resistance with extended use and gastrointestinal irritation.

Oral Contraceptives

Birth control pills are sometimes prescribed to clear up breakouts in women, as they suppress the overactive oil glands in the skin. Birth control pills carry risks for women over 35 as well as women who smoke or have blood clotting disorders.

Topical Retinoids

Retinoids are derived from vitamin A and have been proved to be effective at treating mild-to-severe acne. According to Acne Medicine, topical retinoids unclog the pores, allowing antibiotics and other acne medications to reach into the pores and fight the acne itself. Topical retinoids also help prevent dead skin cells from clogging pores, preventing further breakouts. Adapalene, tazarotene and tretinoin are all examples of topical retinoids. Side effects from topical retinoids include redness and peeling when first starting treatment as well as possible mild stinging.


Isotretinoin, also known under the brand name Accutane, is often the last line of defense for acne. If nothing else has worked, your physician may recommend a course of isotretinoin treatment. It is in the retinoid family, like the topical retinoids, but is taken orally in pill form. The rate of success with this type of treatment is high, with only one four-month course of medication often leading to permanent improvement in the skin. Women taking isotretinoin are required to use two reliable forms of birth control, because the incidence of severe birth defects in babies born to women who were taking it. Additionally, taking isotretinoin requires enrollment in the iPLEDGE program, a registry that keeps track of all users of the drug.

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