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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

Salicylic acid (BHAs) How Lipohydroxy Acid Helps with Acne Lipohydroxy acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), similar to salicylic acid, but with a much larger molecular size. This means it does not penetrate into the skin as far as salicylic acid, and thus causes less side effects. Does it work for acne? We need research to find out. June 16, 2020
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) How Mandelic Acid Helps with Acne Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that helps exfoliate the skin, thus helping to reduce pore clogging and potentially reducing acne. It penetrates less deeply into the skin compared to other AHAs and has less side effects. June 16, 2020
Benzoyl Peroxide Is Benzoyl Peroxide Safe? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that benzoyl peroxide is a safe and effective acne treatment. It comes with side effects, such as dryness and irritation, particularly in the first few weeks of use, but it is safe to use. June 25, 2020
Sulfur Sulfur for Acne Sulfur has been used for thousands of years for its ability to shed the top layer of skin cells and limit bacterial growth. Both of these things help reduce acne. Its effectiveness is increased when combined with benzoyl peroxide or sodium sulfacetamide. September 09, 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. October 20, 2020
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