Many over-the-counter (OTC) acne products are available to treat mild to moderate acne or periodic breakouts. They include cleansing lotions, gels, foams and towelettes, leave-on products, and treatments or kits. How do you know which one is best for you?
Before you decide, learn how OTC acne products work and what ingredients to look for. Then develop a gentle skin care regimen to treat and prevent acne.
The Food and Drug Administration warns that some popular OTC acne products can cause a serious reaction, including throat tightness and swelling of the face, lips or tongue. This type of reaction is quite rare, so don't confuse it with the redness, irritation or itchiness that may occur where you've applied such products.
Acne products work in different ways, depending on their active ingredients. Some OTC acne products work by killing the bacteria that cause acne inflammation. Others remove excess oil from the skin or speed up the growth of new skin cells and the removal of dead skin cells. Some acne products do a combination of these things.
Here are common active ingredients found in OTC acne products and how they work to treat acne.
The acne product that's best for you depends on many factors, including your skin type, the type and severity of your acne, and your skin care preferences. Here are some general guidelines for choosing and using acne products:
Acne products are just one step in your skin care routine. When using acne products:
If your acne doesn't improve after two or three months of home treatment, consider seeing your doctor or a skin specialist (dermatologist) for a prescription lotion or medication.