How can I treat acne myself?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD

Acne medication is a very big business, and that is a great thing, since drugstore aisles are filled with effective acne antidotes. Besides prescription retinoids and over-the-counter salicylic acid products that keep pores unplugged, sulfa medications (such as medicated pads and prescription cleansers) work to kill bacteria and calm inflammation. Benzoyl peroxide (in a concentration of 4% to 8%) is both an antibacterial and a keratolytic, so it dissolves the obstruction in the pore and kills off bacteria.

New at-home (over-the-counter) LED light gadgets claim to kill P. acnes bacteria with heat, like the light sources doctors use. These are far less powerful, but basically they microwave the bacteria. They do work, up to a point. If you have a more serious acne problem than one or two pimples, this method is not going to be enough. It could be a great way to augment your treatment.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
There are several over-the-counter topical medications that you can try to treat the acne on your own. These work by drying up the oil and killing bacteria on the skin. They also promote cell turnover which rids the skin of dead skin cells. You should consult a dermatologist for more detailed information.

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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.