The main ingredients in over-the-counter (OTC) acne medicines are benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, resorcinol, and sulfur. They reduce oil, slow the shedding of dead skin cells inside pores, kill bacteria, and break down the material inside blackheads and whiteheads. They are applied directly to the skin in lotions, creams, gels, and washes. They can be used alone or in combination with other medicines, and they come in varying strengths. Some also contain alcohol, which has a mild effect on degreasing oil and bacteria but can also be very irritating. It may take a few weeks to see results, but non-prescription acne medicines can help control mild acne when used consistently and correctly. These medicines should be a part of a regular skincare program that includes mild cleansing. Consult a dermatologist for more information.