For a quick list of acne treatments and how well they tend to work, check out the acne treatments overview page.
Generally speaking, for most people, proper application of benzoyl peroxide can completely clear acne and keep it clear until it naturally subsides with time.
For people with severe, widespread, and scarring acne, isotretinoin (Accutane®) is an oral treatment that can produce long-term remission of acne in about 2/3 of people, but comes with many side effects, some of which can be lifelong. It also causes severe birth defects, and may cause premature aging and joint pain in the long-term. For all of these reasons, all other options should be exhausted first. If it is used, it must be administered in close partnership with a physician.
Females: If you are experiencing irregular menstruation, particularly if it comes with excessive hair growth, be sure to see your doctor concerning poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If PCOS is diagnosed, oral contraceptives are normally prescribed and can clear acne and relieve other symptoms at the same time.
Many other topical and oral treatments exist for acne, most of which produce moderate, yet incomplete, results. Home remedies, aside from a few exceptions, tend to produce little to no results.
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Natural/Household Treatments What Is Homeopathy, and Does It Work? Homeopathic remedies claim that "like cures like" and "the lower the dose of medication, the better it works." Scientific evidence shows us that these ideas... April 26, 2020
Benzoyl Peroxide What is Benzoic Acid and Can it Help Clear Acne? After you apply benzoyl peroxide to the skin it breaks down into (1) hydrogen peroxide, and (2) benzoic acid. Hydrogen peroxide kills acne bacteria. But what does benzoic acid do? It is hypothesized that it helps exfoliate the skin, reduce inflammation, clear clogged pores, and reduce bacteria. April 26, 2020
Acne Treatments What Is a Draining Sinus? A draining sinus is a huge acne lesion (2-5 centimeters long) that forms when multiple cysts merge inside the skin. Draining sinuses are filled with pus that can leak onto the skin but should never be popped. Instead, see a dermatologist for treatment. April 26, 2020
At Home Treatments Urine Therapy for Acne Urine contains some compounds that have potentially positive impacts on acne bacteria, but contains other compounds that may contribute to skin inflammation, which could make... April 26, 2020
Acne Treatments Treating Acne in Male vs. Female Skin Male skin is thicker with more skin oil, but acne is treated the same in both males and females with two exceptions: (1) hormonal treatments like birth control pills (oral contraceptives) and (2) anti-androgens (spironolacone) are reserved only for women. April 26, 2020
Oils Topical Olive Oil and Acne People have applied olive oil to the skin for centuries. It is healing and healthy in several ways. However, when it comes to acne, it is likely a bad choice, since it has been shown to be slightly comedogenic (pore-clogging). April 26, 2020
At Home Treatments Topical Apple Cider Vinegar and Acne Applying apple cider vinegar topically might help reduce bacteria and have antioxidant effects. However, there is no scientific evidence that it does help with acne. If it does work, it likely only works to a small degree. April 26, 2020
Antibiotics The Side Effects of Antibiotics Topical antibiotics often produce skin irritation, and oral antibiotics are well known to produce gastrointestinal upset and nervous system problems, and sometimes more serious lifelong... April 26, 2020
Antibiotics The Dangers and Ineffectiveness of Antibiotics for Acne Antibiotics provide only temporary relief from acne when they do work at all. They also come with uncomfortable side effects, and perhaps most concerning, they create strains of resistant bacteria that can live on or in a person forever and can be easily passed to others. April 26, 2020