April 30, 2008 at 3:10 pm Leave a comment

The nonprescriptive acne medications listed below are for external use only. In general, use one medication at a time to reduce the chance of skin irritation. It is also easier to detect in case of unwanted skin reaction. You may want to experiment with these topical products first and see if they could improve your mild acne. Should you need to see a doctor, my experience is that the doctor would likely prescribe a combination of internal drugs and topical medications.

Most external treatments are designed to dry the face to some extent and to cause some degree of mild peeling which loosens plugs in oil glands. This peeling tends to smooth the face and resolve the old and new lesions. External medications can be irritating and may need a period of adjustment. Some minor irritation often occurs at the start of therapy. As peeling is underway, your face may not look the best for a while.

Sulfur 3 to 10 percent: Sulfur has been used for treating acne and other diseases for thousands of years in Chinese and other Oriental cultures. Though there have not been extensive scientific studies conducted on this ingredient, dermatologists generally accept it as a safe and effective acne treatment at concentrations of 3 to 10 percent.

Sulfur is used as an active ingredient in soap, cream and lotion. It is believed to act by causing the outer layer of dead and dying skin to peel away. It also may kill bacteria like P. acnes. Care should be taken to avoid getting sulfur products into one’s eyes. If excessive skin irritation develops, discontinue use and consult a doctor.

Sulfur 3 to 8 percent + Resorcinol 2 percent; or
Sulfur 3 to 8 percent + Resorcinol Monoacetate 3 percent: Resorcinol is a skin-peeling agent. It is not safe or particularly effective when used by itself. However, when used in combination with sulfur, it can enhance sulfur’s effectiveness. The two combinations listed above are actually the only combinations that FDA ruled to be safe and effective as topical treatment agents for acne.

The combinations are used to make acne cream, lotion or stick. Apply them to affected skin areas only. Do not use on broken skin or apply to large areas of the body.

Salicylic Acid 0.5 to 2 percent: A skin-peeling agent that has been used to treat acne and other skin disorders for more than a century. The salicylic acid is found to be particularly effective against angry, inflamed pimples, whiteheads and blackheads. Since a milder dose of 0.5 percent is almost as effective as a stronger dose of 2 percent, it might be wise to start treatment with a lower (0.5 or 1 percent) dose of salicylic acid.

Salicylic Acid comes in the form of gel, lotion, cream, soap and medicated pads. When using salicylic acid products, be careful not to get them into eyes. If excessive skin irritation develops, discontinue use and consult a doctor.

Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5 to 10 percent: This compound has been used in a variety of medicines since the 1920s. It is the most common ingredient in over-the-counter skin products. In terms of treating acne, researchers have observed that it appears to act in two ways which are possibly related. The ingredient mildly irritates the blemished outer layer of skin and causes it to peel away. It then kills the underlying bacteria–particularly P. acnes–perhaps by overwhelming their environment with oxygen, which they cannot tolerate.

Benzoyl Peroxide comes in strengths of 2.5 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent, in the forms of lotion, gel, cream and mask. All are ruled by FDA as effective for treating acne. However, some studies have shown that the compound promoted the development of benign skin tumors and skin cancers on mice. Even though studies have not found any direct link between the ingredient and human skin cancer, I would prefer to use some other products mentioned above, just to be on the safe side.

Anyway, do not use this medication if you have very sensitive skin. Benzoyl Peroxide may cause irritation, characterized by redness, burning, itching, peeling, or possibly swelling. Keep away from eyes, lips, and mouth. The product can bleach hair and clothing as well.

Antibiotics (Clindamycin, Erythromycin and Topicycline): Topical antibiotics are fairly new and work directly on the skin by reducing the number of P. acnes and acting as anti-inflammatory agents. When they first came out, they were considered capable of reducing the need for oral antibiotics in the treatment of acne. However, the sharp rise in resistance of P. acnes to the antibiotics, together with their erratic penetration into the follicles, has led some physicians to suggest that these products be avoided.

Topical clindamycin was the preferred topical agent, followed by erythromycin and, much less frequently topicycline (tetracycline hydrochloride). They are available as creams, lotions, gels, solutions and pads.

This form of antibiotics should be applied to the affected area twice a day after the skin is thoroughly washed with warm water and soap and patted dry. Acne lesions of the face, neck, shoulder, chest, and back may be treated in this manner. However, be careful to keep the antibiotics from the eyes, nose, mouth, and other mucous membranes.


Entry filed under: medical treatments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


April 2008
« Dec   May »

Most Recent Posts

%d bloggers like this: