acne medication

What are Acne Medications?

Acne medications are treatments used to reduce the severity of acne lesions and slow the production of skin oils. They may come in a variety of forms, including:

  • Topical treatments: creams, lotions, or gels with active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, or retinoids
  • Oral treatments: antibiotics, biologics, birth control pills, and isotretinoin

What Causes Acne?

Acne is caused by clogged hair follicles, which are small openings in your skin that house the small glands that produce oils. These oils can mix with other substances on the skin, such as dirt and dead skin cells, leading to a buildup of debris in the follicles. This debris is what causes pimples to form.

How Do Acne Medications Work?

The way that acne medications work depends on the type of acne you have and the active ingredients in the treatment.

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments are available in gel, cream, or lotion form and work by targeting the cause of acne.

  • Benzoyl peroxide: works to kill bacteria and dry out the skin
  • Salicylic acid: helps clear clogged pores, reduce inflammation, and exfoliate the skin
  • Sulfur: works to reduce oil production and unclog pores
  • Retinoids: work to reduce inflammation and exfoliate dead skin cells

Oral Treatments

Oral acne medications are taken either as pills or injections and work by targeting the hormone levels, reducing sebum (oil) production, killing bacteria, and other methods that address the root cause of acne.

  • Antibiotics: work by killing certain acne-causing bacteria
  • Biologics: help reduce sebum (oil) production, inflammation, and bacteria
  • Birth control pills: work by regulating hormone levels
  • Isotretinoin: is a powerful medication that works by reducing oil production, killing bacteria, and unclogging pores


Acne medications come in both topical and oral forms, and work in a variety of ways to treat acne. The best acne medication for you will depend on the type of acne you have and the active ingredients of the medication. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist to determine the best course of treatment for your acne.

Keywords: acne medication, acne treatments, acne, pimples, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, retinoids, antibiotics, biologics, birth control pills, isotretinoin

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