Guide To Common Prescription Acne Medications

Acne affects over nine percent of the world's population at any given time. Unfortunately, treating it can be challenging because there are many different types of acne. In addition, there are many possible causes. Acne vulgaris refers to the common zits or pimples that most individuals experience. This form of acne can be divided into two types: inflammatory and non-inflammatory. Inflammatory acne is often more painful than the other type. It is also slightly more common and results in scarring more often. However, both types can be complicated to treat if the wrong medication is used. 

Many individuals seek acne treatment, even for the occasional pimple. Some of them will be successful with over-the-counter treatments, such as a benzoyl peroxide wash, or home remedies for acne. However, many patients need prescription acne medication. These individuals may have active acne or want acne scar treatment. Regardless, they must understand the common options for prescription medication for acne if they want to have the best acne treatment.



One medication that has gained significant attention in recent years for treating acne is dapsone. This treatment is applied to the skin as a gel. It is an antibiotic that kills bacteria and reduces inflammation in many different skin conditions. Although researchers and doctors are still unsure why this medication works so effectively on acne, it has still proven to be effective in mild to moderate cases. However, it is not recommended for severe cases. This is because severe acne is less likely to respond to it. Dapsone has shown to be slightly more effective for inflammatory acne than non-inflammatory. 

This medication is most commonly prescribed as a five percent concentration gel. Most users seem to tolerate it well. Applying the five percent gel twice daily has shown to be very effective after twelve weeks. However, recent studies have found that a 7.5 percent concentration applied only once daily may be more effective. 

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Clindamycin With Benzoyl Peroxide 


A clindamycin-benzoyl peroxide gel is sometimes prescribed for acne patients who have not had much success with other types of treatments. Clindamycin is an antibiotic, and benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic. Thus, this medication offers a double-impact effect on acne. Compared to treatment with clindamycin or benzoyl peroxide alone, the combination has proven to be significantly more efficient at reducing acne. The benzoyl peroxide is believed to enhance clindamycin's antibacterial properties. 

Many doctors recommend this treatment for pregnant women because of its effectiveness and the fact that it has fewer side effects than other acne medications. Most patients who benefit from this mixture see a significant reduction in pimples and lesions after twelve to sixteen weeks. 

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Azelaic Acid 


Azelaic acid is an organic compound used as an acne treatment. In addition to reducing sebum production, it also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Hyperkeratinization is a process where skin cells within hair follicles become trapped and sometimes block sebaceous glands, leading to acne formation. Azelaic acid helps prevent this. Thus, it is a highly effective option in treating different types of acne. 

This treatment is normally prescribed as a cream that can be applied to the skin. However, recent interest has been developing in the foam version. The foam was originally designed for other skin conditions because it is easier to apply for some individuals. An azelaic acid facial peel is also available. The peel has been found to be reasonably effective as a three-month course with each treatment given every two weeks. 

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Spironolactone has been prescribed for years to treat many different conditions, including high blood pressure, heart problems, liver dysfunction, and kidney issues. One of the 'off-label' uses is to treat acne. It works on acne because it has antiandrogenic properties. This means that this medication can reduce certain hormones. Androgen hormones, particularly testosterone, have long been known as one of the leading causes of acne. Although it is unlikely that this is the only cause, certain forms of acne benefit from treatments that target excessive hormones. 

However, because spironolactone reduces testosterone, it is unsuitable for most men. In addition, a doctor will need to evaluate each patient carefully to see if it is appropriate. Pregnant women should also avoid this treatment. Spironolactone comes in two different forms: a liquid suspension and an oral tablet. It is important to note that this medication is a diuretic. This means that it can cause patients to urinate more frequently than normal. 

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Vitamin A is one of the most crucial vitamins for skin health. This is why tretinoin, a synthetic version of vitamin A, is often recommended as an acne treatment. Tretinoin is a topical medication. It can treat many types of acne, including inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. This medication works by speeding up the skin's natural healing process. Part of this process involves replacing dead skin cells with new ones. This is vital as dead skin cells are a major contributor to acne.

Women are more likely to benefit from using this medication than men. However, they are also more likely to experience side effects. Skin irritation and dryness where tretinoin was applied are the two most commonly reported side effects. Thankfully, side effects are rare and fairly mild when they do occur. Additionally, most side effects disappear as patients continue using the medication. Tretinoin is frequently prescribed to older children with acne because it is generally safe and well-tolerated.

HealthPrep Staff