Acne Topical Treatment

Acne is one of the worst things that could happen to your skin. The pimples not only are painful and red and blotchy, but they also leave scars. They have caused numerous people to lose their self-confidence and be the victim of teasing and bullying. However, with the right care, acne can be completely treated and your skin can clear up to be flawless and smooth. Acne treatments are of different types, but most of them are topical treatments. This means that you have to apply the treatments superficially on the skin. 

Most of the over the counter drugs, or drugstore products have low concentrations of chemicals such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or essential oils such as tea tree oils or more. However, these are only effective for mild acne. Unfortunately, most people suffer from severe, chronic forms of acne which need prescription drugs and treatments. When you consult a doctor, they will first try and understand the root cause of your acne. It could be many things, but the most common reason is hormonal imbalances and puberty. The doctor will then prescribe medication based on the severity, type of acne and your age. 

Let’s have a look at some of the drugs used in topical acne treatments


These are derivatives of Vitamin A. Retinoids include drugs such as Tretinoin and Tazarotene. These are sold under various brand names and are usually prescription drugs. Retinoids work by gently exfoliating the dead skin cells and promoting the growth of new skin layers. They  reduce the inflammation around the pimple and can help reduce the pain. Retinoids are also known to reduce dark spots, acne scars and wrinkles caused due to ageing.

Retinoids are usually incorporated into moisturisers, face oils, sunscreens, and even spot treatment ointments. It is essential to use these carefully and under medical supervision, as they can burn the skin if used improperly

Salicylic acid 

Salicylic acid is an effective anti-acne treatment that has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years. This acid removes the dead skin cells and helps to unclog the pores of the skin. The pores in the skin can get clogged due to various reasons including oil buildup, dead skin accumulation and bacterial infections. Salicylic acid combats all of these to clear up your skin. 

Azelaic acid 

It is a naturally occurring acid that is found in cereals such as rye, barley, wheat. Azelaic acid is known to reduce acne and other skin disorders including rosacea. It works wonders for acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties and anti-bacterial properties. It deep cleans your pores and removes any bacteria that might be the cause of recurrent acne. It also helps to lighten acne scars. 

Antimicrobial creams

If the breakouts are severe and caused due to bacterial growth under your skin, your doctor may prescribe topical and oral antimicrobials. Topical antimicrobials include ointments, gels and foams that have to be applied onto the skin. These effectively kill any microorganisms present to help reduce the repeated breakouts. These antibiotics are often given in combination, I.e both oral and topical at the same time to help reduce resistance to the drugs by the bacteria. Combinations such as benzoyl peroxide and erythromycin are most common. 


This is another drug that has become very common in skincare trends. Resorcinol works by removing the outermost layers of the skin that may have become hardened or dark due to acne formation. It is most commonly seen in over the counter creams, oils and serums. However, these contain a very small amount and may not be effective. Doctor prescribed medication will have higher amounts of the drug and usually show results within months. 

Alpha-hydroxy Acid ( AHA)

Similar to salicylic and azelaic acid, this acid works by gently exfoliating the skin cells to give you fresh, glowing skin. Aha is very effective in not only reducing acne pimples but also scars, dark spots, wrinkles, fine lines. Moreover, it increases the blood flow to the skin which helps in stimulating collagen formation. Also, more blood flow means healthy skin that has a natural glow. 

AHA is usually seen in serums and face oils and must be used with caution. 

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is a common ingredient of many acne treatments. Because of its easily available nature and low costs, it can be seen in most drug stores. You can use tea tree oil in combination with moisturiser or use products that contain tea tree oil extracts, such as face washes, creams, gels etc. The oil has many benefits such as reducing inflammation and redness, anti-bacterial and antifungal activity and more. It leaves a cooling effect on the skin once applied. Studies have shown that it is as effective as benzoyl peroxide if used properly. 

Essential oils

Apart from tea tree oil, essential oils such as lemongrass oil, ylang-ylang oil and Rosemary oil have proved to be effective in treating acne. These help to increase blood flow to the skin and reduce acne pimples. They also help to dry out the pimple in case of pus-filled acne that helps to reduce and heal the infections. 

Aloe Vera gel

Aloe Vera has really amazing benefits for skin and hair. This is the reason it is widely used in many skincare products. Aloe Vera gel has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that work wonders for acne. It reduces the size of the pimples and also prevents them from forming scars. Not only that, it nourishes your skin and hydrates it to leave it feeling and looking amazing. For best results, use aloe Vera gel directly from the plant or use 100% authentic sources of the gel. 

Even though topical treatments are easy to use, they may not produce results for months at a time. This is why most doctors combine topical treatments with oral treatments as well. Acne treatments are effective and you must visit a doctor if your acne is recurrent or doesn’t disappear even after using over the counter treatments. Apart from this, it is essential to maintain your diet and lifestyle to help reduce acne and keep your skin healthy. 

It is recommended to drink at least 3 litres of water a day and have a large intake of fibre in your diet. This helps to nourish your skin from the inside and leave a healthy, natural glow. When you hydrate your body, you nourish it at the deepest, cellular levels as water is an essential component of all the cells in our body. It is also best to avoid sugary, oily food as they may mess with your hormones and digestive system, both of which are major causes of acne formation on the skin.

You must also follow some precautions when it comes to acne. The popping of pimples is highly dangerous as it breaks your skin and results in scar formation. It also spreads the bacteria all over the skin that eventually leads to more breakouts. Instead, follow a daily skincare routine, clean your face regularly, and have a healthy diet. All these factors will definitely help reduce any acne on your skin.

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