Topical medication and anti acne creams are created especially for controlling all forms of acne. There are many available brands on the market, but most of them are based on a few specific ingredients. Below are some of the most common topical medications for acne.
1. Benzoyl peroxide – sometimes referred to as the best acne treatment on the market, benzoyl peroxide is used worldwide in many different concentrations. This chemical belongs to the peroxide group, and it is actually a bleaching agent. It acts by destroying the bacteria that lives on the skin, and by increasing cell turnover.
The pros – Many people report success in getting rid of acne while using benzoyl peroxide. It is also not a very expensive treatment, and it usually does not produce bacterial resistance. In addition, it can be used for prolonged periods of time once the skin gets used to it.
The cons – It does not cure acne. It only controls acne and once the treatment is stopped the acne can return. Also, many people never get used to it because of their sensitive skin. Benzoyl peroxide can also lead to severe allergic reactions, so make sure to test it on a small patch of skin before using it. Benzoyl peroxide has also been linked with skin cancer in a recent study. It seems that it can dramatically increase the number of free radicals on the skin. Also, anything we put on our skin ends up in our blood stream, so it is best to avoid benzoyl peroxide while pregnant or nursing.
How to use it? Use benzoyl peroxide with a 2.5 % concentration, as a higher one can have a very irritating effect. Be aware that it can bleach your clothes and pillowcases. This substance can produce a lot of flakiness, so make sure that you moisturise properly. If you have used benzoyl peroxide for more than a month with little success, it is time to try other treatments.
2. Retinoids – these are substances that are actually related to vitamin A. They unclog the pores and increase cell turnover, thus helping the skin stay acne free. Retinoids can be stronger or gentler, depending on which brand you choose. They can also even out the skin tone and improve skin appearance by reducing fine lines.
Treatment for Acne
The pros – For those with moderate acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments, retinoids can be a viable option. They can also be used along with another acne product as they increase their efficacy by opening up the pores.
The cons – Retinoids can produce a lot of irritation. People with very sensitive skin can also develop severe allergic reactions, such as swollen face or red patches. Also, not all forms of acne get better by using a retinoid cream or gel. Retinoids can produce birth defects so make sure not to use them if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
How to use it? Start to use retinoids slowly: 2-3 times per week in the beginning, and then you can increase to once a day if your skin allows it. Use only very little cream on your face as it can be quite strong. A moisturiser can help with any redness or flakiness produces by retinoids.
Laser tram for Acne
3. Salicylic acid – also knowns as BHA, is another anti acne topical treatment option that increases cell turnover and helps exfoliate the skin. It can be less irritating than benzoyl peroxide or retinoids. Salicylic acid can be found as an ingredient in many acne products.
The pros – It can rapidly exfoliate the skin and get rid of dead skin cells, thus improving acne prone skin. Also, it is usually less harsh on the skin and better tolerated than benzoyl peroxide or other chemicals.
Best wash for Acne
The cons – It can still produce irritation, redness, and flaking, especially for people with sensitive skin. Salicylic acid can produce too much dryness, so it should be used along with a moisturiser.
How to use it? Use only one salicylic acid product at a time, otherwise it can produce too much irritation. Also, don’t mix it with other acne products, such as retinoids or benzoyl peroxide. Use every other day in the beginning and see how your skin reacts to it.
4. Antibiotic creams – topical antibiotic creams or gel are usually prescribed by dermatologists for people with severe forms of acne that hasn’t responded to other chemicals. Antibiotics simply kill the bacteria P. Acnes that normally lives on our skin. In people with acne, antibiotics reduce the bacterial infection and inflammation.
The pros – Antibiotic creams can get rid of acne fast in people that suffer from severe forms of acne. Also, they do not produce irritation and can relieve inflammation quite fast.
The cons – The bacteria P. Acnes develop resistance quite fast to antibiotics, usually within a few months of use. Also, antibiotics can destroy too much good bacteria and make the skin prone to more severe bacterial infections. In addition, bacterial infection is usually just a side effect of an acne condition, so the antibiotics don’t address the cause of acne. Bottom line is that antibiotic creams can only work to control acne for short periods of time.
How to use it? You can use an antibiotic cream by alternating it with another acne product each month. This can reduce the risks mentioned before.
4. Sulfur – has been used for ages for beauty treatments. Since sulfur is an essential element of skin formation, it is normal that it can help the skin regenerate. Sulfur soap exfoliates dead skin cells and unclogs the pores, thus getting rid of pimples.
The pros – It is a more natural ingredient that has almost no side effects on the skin. It can get rid of acne quite fast in some cases.
The cons – It usually works on mild forms of acne or on teenage acne. It seems to be less effective in cases of adult acne or cystic severe acne. The smell can also be quite powerful, but it usually goes away after a few hours.
How to use it? Use sulfur soap to wash your face once a day. You can also use a sulfur cream once or twice a day. Never use sulfur products in combination with benzoyl peroxide products.
In conclusion there are many topical treatments that can control acne, at least temporarily. Finding a long term solution for acne usually necessitates a lifestyle change in most people.