The Best Over The Counter Acne Treatment

When asked about acne, many of us will remember those teenage years when we had to bear with those clogged pores, pimples and lumps or cysts that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. Unfortunately, many adults still suffer from acne and although it is not life threatening, the zit can leave disfiguring physical scars permanently on affected areas, not to mention the negative social and emotional effects on the sufferers.

As a result, millions of men and women of all ages seek effective remedial solutions, with over the counter treatment options getting more and more popular by the day due to a number of reasons. Such solutions include topical and oral acne products that can be legally purchased without a doctor’s prescription as well as ebooks that cover lesser known but effective natural remedies

Main Chemical Ingredients :

Finding the right OTC treatment will be made much easier if you have some knowledge about chemicals that make up the product.

In particular, here are four chemicals that you will find in many proven acne products.

1. Benzoyl Peroxide (BP)

Found in popular products such as Clearasil and ProActive, benzoyl peroxide has anti-bacterial properties which help to destroy acne-causing organisms in the pores. It also reduces inflammation, helping to prevent and eliminate reddened, swollen pimples on the face, back, chest and shoulders.

Benzoyl peroxide has been used with great success for many years and is the strongest over the counter medicine; the main side effect associated with this medication is dryness of the skin.

How It Works
– Kills acne bacteria deep inside the follicles
– Helps to loosen whiteheads and blackheads
– Dries and exfoliates skin

Common Negative Effects
– Redness, dryness, and scaling.
– Blistering, burning, crusting, itching, swelling or severe redness can occur to those who are allergic to it or people with sensitive skin

Expected Results
– Harsh chemical (since it is a bleach although refined) that works best for acne conditions that are moderate to moderately severe
– 8 to 12 weeks
– More effective when combined with clindamycin topical antibiotic

2. Salicylic Acid or “Beta Hydroxyl Acid” (BHA)

How It Works
– Breaks down keratin, a protein that holds skin cells together
– Exfoliates old skin and allows new healthy skin to surface
– Loosens and gets rid of whiteheads and blackheads

Common Negative Effects
– Skin peeling, dryness, and irritation when used at concentrations of more than 2%

Expected Results
– Mild chemical that works well for mild / moderate acne and sensitive skin
– Up to 3 months to loosen smaller whiteheads and blackheads
– Works well through consistent and long period of usage

3. Sulfur

How It Works
– Anti bacterial agent
– Exfoliates dead skin cells from the epidermis
– Breaks down existing whiteheads and blackheads

Common Negative Effects
– Peeling and redness
– Unpleasant odor and may discolor skin
– New formation of pimples due to increased cell adhesion

Expected Results
– Works for mild acne and for spot treatments

4. Resorcinol

How It Works
– Helps to remove hard, scaly, or roughened skin
– Breaks down existing blackheads and whiteheads

Common Negative Effects
– Redness and peeling of skin (may occur after a few days)

Expected Results
– Not effective by itself but works well when combined with other medications such as sulfur

5. Glycolic Acid
This medication is frequently found in exfoliating cleansers and creams. It is used to remove the outer layer of dead cells from the skin, unclogging pores and promoting the formation of new, healthier skin. Exfolianting cleansers should be used with some degree of caution, as overuse and too much scrubbing can irritate sensitive skin and lead to further breakouts.

The above are chemicals that can be found in the best OTC treatments available at your local pharmacy. You can also get such drugstore acne products at online stores.

Why You Need Different Products for Face and Body

Pimples and zits can appear on the face (forehead, cheek) or on the body (chest, back, or all over you) except the palm of the hand and sole of the foot, as these are the only areas where skin pores have no hair canals.

While there are no differences between either types of acne, it does not mean that an OTC cleanser is suitable for both your face and other parts of the body. In other words, you should not be using products created to treat facial acne on other parts of your skin and vice versa.

This is because, compared to facial acne, it can be more difficult to treat body acne for a few reasons.

  • Firstly, because of the texture of our skin, body pimple is normally thicker than facial pimple.
  • Secondly, you should know that the pores of the skin on the body are different, being larger and more active than those on the face.
  • Thirdly, since our body is covered up most of the time, the following problems are unfortunately introduced in the process:
  • Sweat, oil and synthetic fabrics irritate the pores leading to the clogging of skin surface by infectious bacteria and formation of acne nodules.
  • Blemishes are constantly exposed to friction from clothing and movement
  • Topical treatments can be washed or rubbed away

As a result, effective wash solutions need to be separately formulated to cater for the different zit conditions on the face and rest of the body.

Before buying your OTC face wash, be specific as to the purpose of the wash solution. In the long run, you may want to select products with separate solutions / systems to address the differing facial and body zit conditions.

Using Over the Counter Medication Solutions – Tips for Best Results

OTC treatments come in many forms such as soaps, lotions, creams and cleansers.

While there commonality among the product ingredients, there are differences in the concentration levels as well as different blends of ingredients.

As such, you may want to start of with a mild strength product to minimize effects such as redness, increased dryness and other skin problems.

Once your skin has adjusted to the treatment, you may gradually vary the strength and frequency of your applications for faster results.

Here are some best practices for using OTC treatments:

  • Go for products labeled as “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic”, since these do not clog your pores. For moisturizing, use water-based, oil-free solutions to help alleviate dry, peeling skin
  • Use a mild non-medicated soap / cleanser / wash to clean the affected areas twice a day. Do not over-wash or over-scrub since this can actually worsen zit.
  • It is important to follow the recommended instructions closely and not apply too much medication on the affected areas.
  • Control your urge to pick or squeeze pimples to avoid infection that can lead to scarring.

Please also note that since products to get rid of zit are just part of holistic skin care, you are advised to also avoid oily cosmetics, sunscreens and hair products.

Using products to treat zit takes a lot of faith and patience since your zit condition may worsen initially.

You will also have to persist with daily use of these non-prescription solutions for some six to eight weeks before you can see favorable results.

Natural Medications

For many people with mild acne, the best OTC medicine is a treatment containing all-natural ingredients. Herbal extracts such as aloe vera, lavender oil, dandelion root, red clover, and echinacea are widely regarded for their anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities. Witch hazel is often used as a toner, opening and cleansing the pores and giving the skin a more even appearance.

Acne cleansers and creams containing botanical oils and other natural ingredients are usually more gentle on sensitive skin and do not cause the drying commonly seen in medications such as benzoyl peroxide.

If you have stubborn acne that does not respond to over the counter acne treatments, you may need to consult a dermatologist. But in many cases, you can treat your zit at home without resorting to strong prescription drugs that may have unwanted side effects. Talk to your doctor before trying any treatment if you are taking medication for any other health condition