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Over-the-counter Treatments

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.

Latest in Over-the-counter Treatments

Over-the-counter Treatments 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
Benzoyl Peroxide 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 could reduce skin aging. To be safe, apply an antioxidant-containing moisturizer after treating with benzoyl peroxide. April 25, 2020
Spot Treatment 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
Benzoyl Peroxide Everything You Need to Know About Benzoyl Peroxide Benzoyl peroxide is available both over-the-counter and as a prescription in 2.5% - 10% strength. It kills bacteria, exfoliates the skin, and may reduce inflammation, all of which can help clear acne. It comes with side effects, especially during the first month. April 08, 2021
Devices Heat Therapy for Acne Heat therapy does little to clear pimples and has scant research to back it up. It can also be expensive. June 08, 2020