Over the counter medicines : Acne Treatment Guide

There are a wide range of medications available at your local pharmacy which are designed to help treat acne. You will probably be familiar with such brands as ‘Oxy’ and ‘Clearasil’ which are both effective at treating mild and moderate forms of acne.

Over the counter acne products contain anti-bacterial chemicals such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Benzoyl peroxide works by destroying the Propionibacterium acnes bacterium (or ‘P acnes’) which is the trigger for acne. This chemical also helps to unclog the pores and reduce any inflammation.

Salicylic acid is a ‘beta hydroxy’ acid which is also a type of plant hormone. It has a range of uses which includes easing aches and pains, mouth ulcers and fever. It is a feature of many skin care products, for example those which treat psoriasis, calluses and acne.

It works by enabling dead skin cells to be shed which frees up the pores and prevents any further acne breakouts. It also reduces any inflammation.

You may find that you experience red, stinging and peeling skin the first time you use an acne product, although using a moisturiser will help. This usually eases after several applications but if not then consider switching to an alternative.

It is a good idea to gradually increase your use of these products over a period of time. But avoid using too many acne products at the same time.

You need to be patient when doing so. It will be weeks possibly months before you notice any difference but if nothing happens after two months or your acne is severe then visit your GP.

Popular brands

These include Oxy, Clearasil, Neutrogena, PanOxyl and Brevoxyl.

Complementary products

These contain organic ingredients such as tea tree oil which claim to be effective against acne. They work by removing dead skin cells as well as reducing the risk of further inflammation.

Effective use of over the counter acne products

The temptation is there to use several products at once with the aim of ‘nuking’your acne but this can have the opposite effect. Excessive use of these products will cause further irritation to your skin such as dryness or peeling.

It is better to start with a single acne product and add another or several products over a period of time. Give your skin a chance to become accustomed to the product and do not apply an excessive amount.

The best results occur if you know what type of skin and acne you have. If you have the mild, non-inflamed type of acne which consists of blackheads and whiteheads then choose products which contain salicylic acid.

But if you have inflamed acne then products which contain benzoyl peroxide are a good option as these ease the inflammation.

One option is that of an acne kit which contains all the products you need to treat acne. A typical kit will contain cleanser, moisturiser etc and is ideal for people with busy lives who don’t want to spend time devising a skin care routine.

Everyone is different when it comes to skin care products. What works for one person may not work for another so you need to experiment with a few products before you find the one that is right for you.

If an over the counter product fails to work then you will need a prescription medicine.

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