Acne Treatment Basics

The basic principle behind the treatment of acne related conditions in acne patients is maintaining the affected area clean. This includes the control of excess surface oil and bacteria, minimizing inflammation and irritation, as well as preventing the follicles from being occluded. This can be achieved with a minimal skin care regimen using over-the-counter products. In other cases where these products do not work, prescription products prescribed by a dermatologist or your physician may be necessary.

What are some treatments?

The main categories of acne treatments are:

  • Topical creams (retinoids, benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin, dapsone)
  • Topical washes and astringents/scrubs
  • Chemical peels
  • Acne surgery (extraction) + facials
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Oral contraceptives (females only)
  • Oral anti-androgen pill (females only)
  • Laser or Blue Light treatment
  • Accutane (Isotretinoin)

Topical creams

To start, a mild cleanser should always be used. A more effective treatment can be achieved with cleansers that contain salicylic acid (2% minimum) or benzoyl peroxide (3-10%). Glycolic acid as strong as 2-12% can also be used in combination with salicylic or benzol peroxide. These types of cleansers should be used 2-3 times a day for optimal effect.

Astringents / Toners

Astringents, also known as toners, may also be used on patients with acne and oily skin. These agents are normally used after cleansers have been applied. Although they may be used as much as twice a day, you must exercise great care as to not overuse these types of products. Astringents/toners may help remove excess oil but they can also cause unnecessary dryness.

Acne Body Wash

If you suffer from body acne either on the chest and/or back, body washes are an effective way to help prevent further acne development. You may also use body washes that contain ingredients such as the ones stated above to help treat and minimize body acne.

Oral Antibiotics

Lastly, prescription retinoids, topical or oral antibiotics, or other agents may also be used to further correct this condition.

What causes Acne?

Acne can be frustrating for affected people across all age groups. It is generally caused by these main factors:

  • Hormones
  • Genetics
  • Makeup
  • Creams, sunblocks, lotions
  • Stress
  • Touching your face

What are the types of acne?

The three main types of are:

  • Comedonal acne
  • Inflammatory acne
  • nodular and nodulocystic acne

In dermatology, we even break it down some more, but the above are the major types that concern most patients. Comedonal acne are known as blackheads and whiteheads that result from general pore occlusion with sebum (oil) and dead skin cells. Inflammatory acne occurs when bacterial inflammation ensues as bacteria build up behind the pore blockage. Nodular and nodulocystic acne occur as the inflammation become more severe to where a cyst pocket begins to form.


Choosing the right treatment for you will require a visit to your dermatologist, and may require some trial and error methods until the right choice is found for your skin.


More information

To read more, visit several more information pages listed here: