Acne breakouts are frustrating, embarrassing, and potentially painful. Understanding over-the-counter (OTC) options for treating mild to moderate acne can help treat them quickly and prevent them from recurring.
What Are Common Active Ingredients
What separates traditional facial cleansers from active acne treatment is the addition of active ingredients targeted to reduce and prevent pimples from developing. The most common active ingredients found in OTC acne treatments are benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxyl acids, salicylic acid, and sulfur.
- Benzoyl peroxide works in several ways to reduce and prevent acne breakouts. It kills the bacteria that cause acne while also removing excess dead skin and oil reducing the number of clogged pores.
- Alpha hydroxyl acids work to reduce inflammation and remove dead skin cells that could potentially clog pores. They can also encourage the growth of skin, resulting in reduce pore appearance and smoother skin.
- Salicylic acid works to prevent acne by preventing pores from becoming clogged. It can also reduce the number of dead skin cells, and therefore reduce the number of clogged pores.
- Sulfur may have an unpleasant odor but is effective in removing excess oil and dead skin cells from the face. This ingredient is usually combined with another agent to be more effective.
How To Use Products Effectively
Your face and your acne are unique, therefore what will work to treat and prevent your acne may require some time to figure out. Always start with lower strength products to reduce facial irritation but know that you can increase the strength gradually over time if needed. It is important to be patient, since it may take up to three months to see results. Often, combining different products can be an effective method for treating difficult acne.
How To Develop a Skincare Routine
Acne treatment and prevention requires a diligent skincare routine. Choosing an effective OTC product is only half of the battle. Developing quality skincare habits are just as important. Remember that excessive washing can worsen acne, so limit face washing to twice a day making sure to use a gentle cleanser. Reserve scrubs for twice a week to avoid over-irritating skin. After washing, apply a water-based moister to replenish the skin without clogging your pores. Make sure to use water-based sunscreens or products that are labeled as noncomedogenic to reduce the potential for making your acne worse. In addition to taking care of your face, washing your pillowcase frequently can help prevent acne flare-ups.
With some OTC treatment and a quality skincare routine, you should see your acne breakouts decrease in severity and frequency. However, if you don’t see an improvement, consider seeing a skincare specialist to see what other options are available to you.