Treating Acne With Over-the-Counter Medication


By Donald Saunders

Most cases of acne are mild and so it is common for people to treat themselves with over-the-counter non-prescription medications. If such medicines are used together with a good regime of skin care, then this form of treatment is often very effective.

So just what sort of over-the-counter medications should you consider?

One of the commonest treatments for mild acne, and one which is used by literally millions of people every day, is benzoyl peroxide which works in part by attacking the bacteria which is a factor in causing acne in the first place. It also works by removing dead skin cells which would otherwise block the pores of the skin and provide the ideal environment for pimples to develop.

Benzoyl peroxide is not a new medicine and has been around for very many years now so that we have excellent evidence of both its strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, it has few side effects although it can dry out the skin and will also 'bleach' fabric so it does need to be used with care. It also comes in various strengths (typically 2.5%, 5% and 10%) and it is important that it is used in the correct strength. Start at 2.5% and only move up in strength if this does not appear to be effective and you are not suffering any undue side effects. Many people believe that if a 2.5% strength will do the job then a 10% strength will work four times as well, but this is not the case.

Salicylic acid is another commonly used medication and, as this is the active ingredient in aspirin, it is also a very safe treatment. Salicylic acid is often purchased in pad form and can help to break down both blackheads and whiteheads. In addition, it slows down the shedding of dead skin cells within the follicles which makes the build up and compaction of dead skin cells less likely. Finally, it helps to remove dead skin cells preventing a build-up of bacteria within the sebum, or skin oil.

Salicylic acid should not be used alongside other treatments unless your physician or dermatologist recommends additional treatment, as this can cause skin irritation.

A third option is resorcinol which can be useful in some cases, especially when combined with compounds such as sulphur. Resorcinol breaks down hard skin helping to remove dead skin from the follicles to prevent clogging and a build-up of bacteria. Rosorcinol should not be used with any form of astringent like alcohol.

A final and forth option is alcohol and acetone, which many people would describe as an 'old-fashioned' treatment. Alcohol acts as a mild antibacterial and helps to remove oil from the surface of the skin, while acetone also acts as a degreasing agent to clean the surface of the skin.

The problem however with acne is that the excessive skin oil which contributes to the problem of acne lies below the surface of the skin and it is here that, in the presence of dead skin cells, white blood cells and bacteria, that acne forms. As a result alcohol and acetone are of only limited value.

One final point to note is that a treatment which works for one person will not necessarily work for another person and so, with the exception of alcohol and acetone which really should not be recommended these days, it is a question of trying each medication in turn for a reasonable period of time to find the one that works best for you.

ProactiveAcneCreamTreatment.com provides information on all aspects of acne from details of proactive acne treatment to finding the best acne medication.

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