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Acne Treatments

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.

Latest in Acne Treatments

Acne Treatments Can Fenugreek Seeds Help with Acne? Fenugreek might help with acne by reducing inflammation, fighting free radicals, killing acne bacteria, and speeding up wound healing. However, it might also make acne worse by increasing skin oil production. We will need studies on people with acne before we know for sure. October 20, 2020
Isotretinoin (Accutane) What are the side effects of Accutane (isotretinoin)? Isotretinoin (Accutane) is an oral medication for severe acne that does not respond to other treatments. The reason it is reserved for only severe cases is because it comes with a plethora of side effects, some of which can be severe and/or long term. It also causes severe birth defects. October 12, 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. October 12, 2020
Retinoids What Are Retinoids, and Why Are They Used to Treat Acne? When people refer to retinoids in acne treatment, they are normally referring to the three approved prescription topical retinoids: tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene. All three work by unclogging pores and reducing irritation. They are unlikely to completely clear the skin on their own, however. October 02, 2020