Drugstore Remedies for Acne

XYZPRAT A severe acne breakout that covers your face or body may require professional acne treatment from a dermatologist. But for most people, the occasional pimple or blemish can be handled at home with an over-the-counter acne treatment. There are many options to choose from and different ingredients to consider, so do your homework before putting anything on your face.

About Over-the-Counter Acne Treatments

Healthy habits — including a good skin care regimen, regularly washing your skin, and keeping your hands and oily products off of your face — are your first line of defense in preventing an acne breakout. But no matter how hard you try, you're likely to get a pimple or two at some point.

If you have regular acne breakouts, take steps to improve your skin care regiment. When problem skin is left untreated, you may experience frustration, problems with self-esteem, and physical scars from your acne. You can treat your acne breakout — so don't just live with it and hide your face until it goes away.

Which Over-the-Counter Acne Treatments Should You Try?

Over-the-counter acne medication comes in a variety of different forms and strengths. Topical over-the-counter acne medications are available as:

  • Medicated pads to clean the skin
  • Special soaps and cleansers
  • Gels
  • Creams
  • Lotions

These nonprescription acne medication options are a good choice for people who have only mild acne — the occasional acne breakout of small pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads.

You’ll have to decide what's the best method of acne treatment for you and your skin — whether you need a gel or cream to spot-treat the occasional pimple, or if you need a medicated wash and lotion to keep your whole face or body blemish- free and clear.

Ingredients to Fight an Acne Breakout

Over-the-counter acne medications may contain a few different ingredients to help fight a simple pimple or a full-fledged acne breakout. Common ingredients are:

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid
  • Resorcinol
  • Sulfur

Some of these may also be found in prescription acne treatments, but you can get milder, lower-dose versions in over-the-counter products.

The most commonly found ingredients in over-the-counter acne medications are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. They help to rid your skin of excess oil and destroy lingering bacteria to help fight acne. Once the oils have dried up, the skin layers making up the pimple will peel and flake off. Benzoyl peroxide can also help to shrink pimples by reducing swelling and inflammation. Sulfur, resorcinol, and salicylic acid actually help pimples disintegrate and clear up skin.

(Prescription-strength acne medication is stronger — and may offer the option of oral medications and other, more effective ingredients, like retinoids or injections of corticosteroids, that you can't get over-the-counter.)

Possible Side Effects of Over-the-Counter Acne Treatments

There are some potential, although relatively minor, side effects to consider when using over-the-counter acne medication. Because these treatments help dry up excess oil, they can leave your skin too dry if used too frequently. Other common side effects include:

  • Reddened skin
  • A burning sensation
  • Irritated skin

Always follow the instructions provided on the packaging of any over-the-counter acne medication that you use to help minimize the risk of these side effects.

No acne medication works immediately, so it's important to understand that it takes time to see results — and that you shouldn't give up. Some over-the- counter acne medications can take as long as eight weeks to provide results.

If you can't get relief from your acne using over-the-counter acne medication — or if you have painful side effects — it may be time to see a dermatologist about other methods of clearing up your skin.

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