Over-the-counter Treatments for Acne

Over-the-counter or OTC products for treating acne come in a wide range of creams, gels, face washes, cleansers, astringents, moisturizers, face wipes, masks, toners and more.
These products are manufactured by various expensive and not-so-expensive brands and are available at your local chemist’s as well as at beauty stores. You can know about these products through advertisements on television, magazines and the internet. Many people suffering from acne often resort to using over-the-counter products rather than being treated medically for the same.

But How Do You Decide On Which OTC Product To Use For The Treatment Of Acne?

In this article we will discuss with you important information regarding the selection of products which are most effective in treatment of acne.

1. Treatment Of Acne Using Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is the most common and popular over-the-counter treatment for acne. It is available in cream as well as gel form and is used for getting rid of mild to severe acne. Benzoyl peroxide deeply penetrates the many layers of the skin to draw out and kill the acne causing bacteria.

Benzoyl peroxide should be used twice a day for a period of one week. Clean and dry the skin properly. Take a pea-sized amount of benzoyl peroxide gel or cream on the tip of your index finger. This quantity of the gel is enough for your entire face. Apply a thin layer of the gel over your skin and leave it on for a period of eight hours.

Benzoyl peroxide effectively reduces the acne causing bacteria by as much as 95%. The gel penetrates the skin deep and kills the bacteria thus reducing the inflammation caused by acne. The gel is also effective in getting rid of blackheads and whiteheads by loosening them from the pores of the skin. Benzoyl peroxide dries up the excess oil in the skin. The skin becomes dry and starts exfoliating thus getting giving way to clear and bright skin.

Medical studies have shown that benzoyl peroxide is highly effective in the treatment of acne. It works faster and better than many prescription medications. However, the gel is known to show best results when used in combination with Clindamycin, which is another anti-acne gel.

There are topical side effects associated with benzoyl peroxide. The gel is prepared using very strong chemicals that result in reddening, drying and peeling of the skin. Exposure of the gel damaged skin to sun can lead to ugly scarring and blistering. The only way of preventing the side effects is to use the gel in the quantity recommended in the product literature sheet.

2. Treatment Of Acne Using Salicylic Acid

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Salicylic Acid is also called as “beta hydroxyl acid” (BHA). It is used mainly for treating light acne on sensitive and extra sensitive skin. Salicylic acid is added in washes used for cleaning the skin. It gently exfoliates the uppermost layer of the skin preparing it for other acne treatments.

Salicylic acid works by acting on keratin. This is the protein found in skin cells and is responsible for holding the cells together. The acid breaks down the protein which causes the skin to slough off. Exfoliation allows the cleaner and healthier skin to come to the surface. Exfoliation also helps get rid of problems like whiteheads and blackheads.

Salicylic acid is a very mild treatment of acne and is used only for treating sensitive skin. Unlike Benzoyl peroxide it does not penetrate the skin deep. Salicylic acid can take up to three months to only loosen the whiteheads and blackheads from the skin. Hence using it to treat severe acne is not recommended. However, application of salicylic acid on a regular basis can keep your skin clean of whiteheads and blackheads. Also, using it on new acne can reduce the severity of the acne. The acid is often prescribed by doctors to reduce the inflammation and redness of the skin due to presence of acne.

Some side effects associated with use of salicylic acid are peeling and extreme dryness of the skin. In some cases salicylic acid might also cause mild irritation of the skin. The use of salicylic acid makes the skin extra sensitive to the sun. Only in extreme cases will it cause damage to the inner ear.

3. Treatment Of Acne Using Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)

Alpha Hydroxy Acids are known for effectively treating acne and other skin problems irrespective of skin type. Based on the percentage of alpha hydroxy acids in the product, it can be used to treat mild to severe acne. AHAs help fasten the process of healing of the acne. Regular use of AHAs is enough to prevent further outbreaks of acne.

AHAs are natural acids that are extracted from fruits, milk sugars, and plants. Glycolic acids (obtained from sugar cane) and lactic acids (obtained from milk) are majorly used in formulation of many over-the-counter products for treatment of acne.

AHAs prevent and treat acne by working on the dead skin cells that are the main cause of acne. They disintegrate the bonds that join the dead skin cells together and gently exfoliate the uppermost layer of the skin. Removal of this dead layer of the skin reveals smoother, cleaner and healthier skin to the surface. Studies have also revealed that use of AHAs in skin care products has helped with the production of collagen and elastin – fibers that are important for maintain the elasticity and firmness of the skin in order to delay the signs of aging.

Using AHAs-based products helps the skin prepare better for receiving treatments by other acne products. AHAs are mainly found in lotions, toners, creams and face washes. Glycolic Acid based products are also good moisturizers and take good care of the skin that is peeling and drying due to use of benzoyl peroxide.

Like in case of other acne products, AHAs also make the skin sensitive to the rays of the sun. in some cases exposure to sunlight can cause minor blisters and burns. Therefore, use of a good sunscreen is recommended when getting treated for acne.