Acne is a common skin condition causing spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that’s hot or painful to touch.
Most people with acne experience it on their face, but many also get it on their back, while some also develop it on their chest.
Treatment for acne depends on how severe it is. Over-the-counter topical creams and gels can be used for people with mild acne, but severe acne may require prescription medication.
The NHS recommends the following four topical products for the treatment of acne.
Benzoyl peroxide is an over-the-counter product recommended for the treatment of mild acne.
It works as an antiseptic to reduce the number of bacteria on the surface of the skin and also helps to reduce the number of whiteheads and blackheads, while having an anti-inflammatory effect.
Benzoyl peroxide is usually available as a cream or gel and is recommended for use once or twice a day.
Most people need a six-week course of treatment to clear most or all of their acne, but it may be advised to continue treatment less frequently to prevent acne returning.
Topical retinoids, which are available on prescription, work by removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, helping to prevent them building up within hair follicles.
Tretinoin and adapalene are the names of the topical retinoids used to treat acne. They’re available in a gel or cream and are usually applied once a day before going to bed.
A six-week course is usually required, but it may be advised to continue using the medication less frequently after this.
Like topical retinoids, topical antibiotics are also available on prescription. They work by helping to kill the bacteria own the skin that can infect plugged hair follicles.
Topical antibiotics come in the form or lotions and gels and are applied once or twice a day.
A six to eight-week course is usually recommended. After this, treatment is usually stopped as there’s a risk the bacteria could become resistant to the antibiotics.
Azelaic acid is also available on prescription and is often used as an alternative treatment for acne if you experience painful or very irritating side effects from benzoyl peroxide or topical retinoids.
Azelaic acid works by getting rid of dead skin and killing bacteria. It’s available as a cream or gel and is usually applied twice a day.
Azelaic acid usually takes a month for acne to improve.
“Treatment for acne depends on how severe it is. It can take several months of treatment before acne symptoms improve,” said the NHS.