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Acne Treatments and Prevention

Topical treatments for acne are medications that are applied directly to the skin to treat acne. These treatments target the various factors contributing to the development of acne, such as excessive oil production, inflammation, and bacterial growth.


Here are some examples of topical treatments for acne with further information in the boxes below:

Benzoyl peroxide


Benzoyl peroxide is an over-the-counter medication that kills the bacteria that cause acne and helps to unclog pores. It can be found in various strengths, from 2.5% to 10%.

Salicylic acid


Salicylic acid is another over-the-counter medication that works by exfoliating the skin and unclogging pores. It is particularly effective for treating blackheads and whiteheads.



Retinoids are prescription medications that are derived from vitamin A. They work by unclogging pores and promoting cell turnover. Common retinoids used for acne treatment include tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene.

Topical antibiotics


Topical antibiotics are prescription medications that kill the bacteria that cause acne. Commonly used antibiotics include clindamycin, erythromycin, and minocycline.

Combination therapy


Some acne treatments combine multiple medications to target different aspects of acne development. For example, a combination of benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin may be used to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation.

It is important to note that topical acne treatments can have side effects, such as skin irritation and dryness. It is important to follow the instructions provided or on the medication label and to contact us if you experience any adverse effects.

See also our Top Tips for Topical Acne Skincare

Box containing azelaic acid

Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid has comedolytic, antimicrobial, and mildly anti-inflammatory properties to treat acne or oily skin.

Box containing Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide (BPO)

Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO) is one of the best topical treatments for acne and prevents bacterial resistance.

Box labelled with Clascoterone


Clascoterone is a new treatment for acne which blocks the effects of androgen within the skin.

Clindamycin in a tube above a labelled box


Clindamycin is a topical antibiotic indicated for the short term treatment of acne

Dapsone cream in a tube next to a labelled box


Dapsone is an effective treatment for acne especially in females and those with darker skin types.

Erythromycin gel next to a labelled box


Erythromycin is a topical antibiotic used in combination for acne.

Box containing Minocycline


Minocycline is an approved treatment for acne that can last weeks after it stopped.

Box containing Adapelene


Retinoids are the quintessential first-line treatment for acne vulgaris

Tube of salicylic acid

Salicylic acid

Salicylic is a popular choice to treat acne prone skin. It can also be used as a chemical peel.

Sodium sulfacetamide in a tube

Sodium sulfacetamide

Sodium sulfacetamide is usually combined with other topical treatments for acne.

Tub containing sulfur cream


Sulphur can be used alone as a treatment for acne or combined to provide an alternative to treat acne skin.

Applying a topical treatment to the skin on the arm

Tips for Topical Acne Skincare

A summary of topical skin treatments for acne and helpful tips how to apply them.

Benzoyl peroxidase
Salicylic Acid
Tips For Topical Acne Skincare
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