Over The Counter Products for Acne


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With such an array of products on the market, choosing the right over-the-counter treatment for your acne can seem like an impossible task. The products available range dramatically in price from just a few pounds to substantial amounts of money. They also differ in the type of treatment with gels, cleansers, soaps, face packs, wipes, exfoliators and tablets making up just some of the options. Added to this, the products are often composed of different chemicals, in different combinations and quantities some of which may work for you and some of which will not.

Often, choosing the best acne product for you is a case of trial and error. This guide has been written to comprehensively explain the different types, prices, chemicals and uses of the most common and most effective over-the-counter acne treatments.

Are Over-the-counter Products suitable for my Acne?

Before investing in an acne treatment from your pharmacist, chemist or drugstore it is a good idea to determine if such treatments will have a positive effect on your acne. If your acne is moderate-to-severe it is a good idea to first consult your doctor or dermatologist about your condition. They may recommend that you instead try prescription drugs as over-the-counter treatments will probably not be strong enough. The best way to gauge the severity of your acne is to look at how extensive your acne is and at the type of spots you have. A moderate-to-severe condition is mostly made up of a large number of round, red raised lumps, some of which may have a yellow head, along with larger, more painful lumps that may be pus-filled. On the other hand, if you have a few red, raised lumps including the odd few with yellow tops, your condition is probably mild-to-moderate and you stand a good chance of seeing an improvement after using over-the counter products.

It is sometimes a good idea to consult your doctor even if your acne is not severe. They will be able to examine your skin and tell you which types of product are best suited to your condition. They will also be able to give you lots of good general advice about how to best care for acne prone skin.

Types of Over-the-counter Acne Product

There are innumerable different forms of acne product. They come in sticks, wipes, reams, gels, scrubs, creams, washes, soaps, cleansers, pads…The list is continuing to grow as the market is a very lucrative one. The best treatments tend to be gels, creams and washes. Meanwhile it is a very good idea to avoid any scrubs or wipes as they can aggravate acne.

There are also a large number of ingredients that go into these products. Of these, there are four main chemicals which are respected and which are shown to be effective. These are:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Resorcinol
  • Sulphur

The contents of acne products are generally displayed clearly on the packaging and any products that do not display their contents should be avoided. Ask your pharmacist for help if you are not sure what to look for.


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