A Brief Rundown on the Best Acne Medications Out There

Taylor Post


Once you’ve tried just about every home remedy for acne out there, it’s high time to turn to an expert. Finding the best acne medication for your skin isn’t just a matter of reading reviews on the internet: Each choice varies widely in ingredients, so the key is discovering which one is the most effective for you.

Between topical treatments, prescription pills, and even the best over-the-counter acne treatments, it’s a good idea to just head to your dermatologist to get some insight. Unfortunately, the DIY approach isn’t always what works—but in the meantime, here’s the lowdown on each type of treatment. Knowledge is power.

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Benzoyl Peroxide
One of the most popular choices for a topical over-the-counter acne treatment, benzoyl peroxide dries up acne-causing bacteria, causing skin to peel away and leave a fresh layer of smooth skin. Found in many OTC acne gels, creams, and washes, benzoyl peroxide is pretty damn effective at clearing up breakouts, but overuse can potentially dry out your skin.

Salicylic Acid
This topical treatment works by adding moisture to the skin and helping to shed acne-prone skin cells. When you’re using a salicylic acid product, be sure to avoid sun exposure as it makes skin more sensitive to damaging rays—and always, always go hard on the sunscreen!

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Azelaic Acid
This acid not only kills bacteria in the skin and clears away acne, but also prevents it from coming back. Azelaic acid works on mild to moderate acne, but only in areas that are affected by bacteria.

Prescription Pills
Veering away from topicals, oral treatment is an option for severe cases of acne. From natural remedies to using birth control as an acne treatment, there are numerous oral medications—but those definitely need to come from a doctor.