OTC vs. Rx Acne Treatments: Which is Right for You?

When you have acne flare-ups or ongoing skin problems that affect your confidence, you’ll probably try just about anything to clear up your skin and get back to looking beautiful.  But you don’t necessarily need to spend beaucoup bucks to get the healthy glow you’ve been craving.  Of course there will be severe instances in which prescription treatments are required, but for most people there are adequate (and inexpensive) options at your local pharmacy that can provide for a workable skin-care solution.  But how do you know which type of treatment is right for you?  Here are a few clues that will help you figure it out.

For starters, you should try to pinpoint the cause of your acne.  Generally speaking, there are three contributing factors when it comes to ongoing acne problems: bacteria, oil, and the build-up of dead skin cells.  Here’s how it works.  You pores contain oil glands that produce sebum, a substance that helps to keep your hair and skin hydrated.  In some people, these glands can become overactive and produce too much oil (this can also occur when you have a sunburn or other types of skin damage, as your body tries to repair the injury).Bacteria that occur naturally on your skin get into your pores and begin to feed on the sebum, causing them to multiply (gross, but entirely natural).  Finally, dead skin cells that are not sloughed off begin to seal over pores, clogging them.  The sebum and bacteria in the pores are then trapped and the pores become inflamed, leading to what you probably know as zits and pimples.

For most people, there is a simple solution to this problem; an easy daily regimen of gentle exfoliation and cleansing will do the trick.  You can utilize an exfoliating scrub (although you can’t use anything too harsh or it could cause microscopic tears in the skin that lead to infection and premature aging in some cases), followed by a cleanser that contains salicylic acid (a mild drying agent).  This one-two punch will remove dead skin cells that clog pores while also reducing the amount of oil on your skin (creating less food for bacteria).  Finally you’ll need an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer that will rehydrate your sensitive skin without adding any oil to the mix (you can also find make-up brands like Neutrogena that make products with similar qualifiers).


Unfortunately, some people have a fourth contributing factor to their acne woes: hormones.  If your acne gets noticeably worse at a certain time of the month, or if you’ve tried every over-the-counter product and they simply aren’t helping, then it may be time to visit a dermatologist for a professional assessment and a prescription for stronger treatments (potentially even oral medications like Tetracycline).  Just keep in mind that stronger, better, and more diverse products are hitting the OTC market every day.  So keep up with the latest pharmacy news and check in frequently with the pharmacist to see if there are less expensive products that may contain the same ingredients or strengths as your pricy prescriptions.  Most of us will shell out ridiculous amounts of money for worry-free skin, but you may find that OTC treatments work just as well for your acne problems.

(Guest Post by Carol Montrose)

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  1. Anonymous11:08 AM

    Try cephile(sp), purpose or neutrogena. I have some acne and sensitive skin and my doc told me bout cerphil(sp) and I like it. It's not harsh like the other's.

  2. the best thing to do is wash your face with baby soap and drink lots of water. its cheap and easy

  3. Tea Tree oil.
    its a natural antiseptic and its absolutely fab on any skin for acne.

  4. Thomas11:15 AM

    Try Quinoderm it works!

  5. For my acne I like to use st.Ives apicots scrubs everyday they really help...

  6. Don't worry too much about the scarring or else your worries will just add stress and create more. If anything, just wash your face with soap everyday and go on about life as usual.

  7. Apoorva11:19 AM

    Change pillow case every night and wash you face 3-5 times a day.


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