A Patient's Guide to Acne
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Acne Treatment Options:

Over the Counter (Non-Prescription)

What is OTC?

OTC means over-the-counter—drugs that are available without a doctor’s prescription at your local drugstore. Most OTC products have lower concentrations of active ingredients, and are considered to be low risk for general public use. For more severe disease, a prescription strength product would be more appropriate. In the context of acne, most OTC products consist of cleansers and topical treatments that include one of the below actives in low concentrations:

  • Salicylic acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Antibacterials
  • Benzoyl Peroxide

Common side-effects

  • Dryness
  • Initial worsening or flaring of acne
  • Irritation

The importance of compliance

Acne medication needs to be used exactly as directed on the label. Acne treatment takes a lot of patience as acne rarely clears instantaneously. More typically, it takes weeks or months of continuous treatment for acne to improve. Also, a common side-effect of many acne medications is that it actually causes the acne to flare up initially. Compliance is critical. Non-compliance is one of the most common reasons that acne treatment regimens fail.

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