When it comes to over-the-counter acne medications, there is one clear winner: benzoyl peroxide. When it is applied properly it can reliably and completely clear the skin. The only other FDA-approved over-the-counter treatments are salicylic acid, sulfur, and resorcinol, all of which come with drawbacks, not the least of which being that none of them completely clear the skin.
A helper: alpha-hydroxy-acids: Alpha hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, are not officially FDA-approved acne medications. However, glycolic acid is available over-the-counter in up to 10% strength, and can powerfully exfoliate the skin, increasing the power of benzoyl peroxide.
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Latest in Over-the-counter Treatments
Does Benzoyl Peroxide Cause the Skin to Age Faster?
Benzoyl peroxide produces free radicals, and therefore some concern exists that this might lead to skin aging. However, benzoyl radicals may also reduce inflammation, which...
April 25, 2020
Can Topical Zinc Improve Acne?
Topical zinc has not been shown to improve acne when applied on its own. However, scientists consistently keep making new zinc compounds and trying them on the skin, so the possibility is still there that a zinc compound may be beneficial.
April 25, 2020
Does Ice Help to Heal Acne?
The application of cold temperatures reduces inflammation, as seen in soft tissue injuries such as sprained ankles. The same is true of the skin. Icing acne lesions should reduce inflammation and hasten healing. It is particularly effective when applied at the early onset of a pimple.
April 14, 2020
Does Benzoyl Peroxide Make Hyperpigmentation Worse?
There is no evidence to date that benzoyl peroxide makes hyperpigmentation worse.
February 03, 2020