Can OTC medications help prevent acne?

Yes, the good news is that several ingredients in OTC acne products actually can help prevent breakouts. Look for acne cleansers, lotions, and gels that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These are the most effective ingredients that are available without a prescription. Others that might be beneficial are sulfur, resorcinol, and alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Many over-the-counter (OTC) products can help control acne breakouts. These remedies are all applied directly to the skin. The active ingredients in most OTC acne medicines are benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, resorcinol and sulfur. They can reduce oil, help remove dead skin cells, kill acne-causing bacteria, and break down the blackheads and whiteheads. Some of these products also contain alcohol, which has a mild effect on degreasing oil and bacteria, but can be very drying. 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 skin care routine that includes gentle washing with a mild cleanser. Consult a dermatologist for more information.

Continue Learning about Acne Prevention

How does the shedding of old skin help to prevent acne?
Jeffrey A. Benabio, MDJeffrey A. Benabio, MD
Old, dead skin clogs your pores. Clogged pores build up bacteria and oils leading to pimples. Benzoy...
More Answers
How can I avoid acne breakouts from using sunscreen?
Jeannette O. Graf, MDJeannette O. Graf, MD
Look for new formulas that are lightweight, oil-free and non-comedogenic. These may help keep your s...
More Answers
How can I prevent acne during pregnancy?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
You may not be able to prevent acne during pregnancy, but you can take steps to minimize breakouts. ...
More Answers
What Foods Help Prevent Acne?
What Foods Help Prevent Acne?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.