When treating acne you have a number of choices and combinations to choose from. It can be difficult to know what will work best for you. Each treatment type is best suited for a certain skin-type or condition.

Over-The-Counter Topical Treatments

OTC products are designed to be a quick fix for minor to moderate acne. Many contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Sulfur is also used in some high-end over-the-counter acne treatments. They are designed to kill surface bacteria and remove dead-skin cells. This helps unclog pores that can become inflamed because of the dead skin. Over-the-counter products include cleansers, moisturizers, active treatment gels, toners and facial masks.


Topical Treatments By Prescription Only

A dermatologist can prescribe topical acne treatments that are by prescription only. These usually have higher concentrations of an active ingredient and fewer filler ingredients. Strong benzoyl peroxide treatments are usually prescribed. There are also retinoid treatments that are commonly used for inflammatory and painful acne. Prescription treatments are usually tough and cause irritation, redness, burning and even peeling. You can sit through the discomfort or gradually introduce the product to your skin. Using thick moisturizing creams help to reduce irritation. Washing off the medicated treatments after a few hours can also help reduce side effects.


Antibiotics combined with a topical treatment can clear up severe acne in a matter of days. In fact, anyone that has a bacterial infection can take antibiotics and notice clearer skin. These are taken for short periods of time. Some people may find that they are allergic to antibiotics used to treat acne. The most common treatment is with the use of penicillin.

This treatment method is not recommended for women taking oral contraceptives.

Oral Contraceptives

While this is only useful for women, birth control pills can dramatically improve acne conditions. It is considered a great treatment for cystic acne. Ortho Tri-Cyclen is one of the most commonly prescribed birth control for acne clearing.

Cosmetic Procedures

Using peels and microdermabrasion can help clear acne immensely. They not only clear blemishes, but prevent scars and discoloration from happening. The only downside is that they can be expensive and require a professional to administer the treatments.

Facial Masks

Facial masks are fun twice weekly acne treatments that can help stubborn blemishes go away. They also heal scars and purge clogged pores. Clay masks absorb and control oily skin. There are skin masks for a number of skin concerns. Some even have a high sulfur content to help eliminate breakouts. Look for active ingredients and clay. These can be applied after cleansing to complete your skincare routine.

Deciding What Is Best For You

Over-the-counter treatments are always going to be the cheapest option. Sometimes the cheaper products are effective, other times they are not worth your cash. Read reviews before making a decision. Check if the product will work for your skin type. If you have known sensitivities to ingredients, then do not purchase products with those ingredients. You will save a lot of money and time!