Over-the-counter acne treatments

Over-the-counter acne treatments are drugs accessible without a physician’s prescription at any drugstore. In most cases, it is considered low risk for public use since it has lower concentrations of chemical ingredients. Usually, OTC products for acne comprised of  topical treatment and cleansers.

A large number of OTC acne products are available in the market for the treatment of  mild to moderate acne. However, how do we know which acne treatment are effective out of the many products is very difficult.  Before you buy any acne products, understand how it works and what ingredients do they have. The following are lists of active ingredients in OTC acne treatments and some brand name available in the market.

Common over-the-counter acne treatments

some of the common over-the-counter acne treatments includes:

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a widely used active ingredients used for acne treatments available in most drug stores. It is used as a first line ingredient for treatment of acne. It helps to reduce inflammation by removing dead cells and oils that clogged skin pores and also by killing the bacteria that cause acne. It is sold over-the-counter in strength ranges from 2.5% to 10%.   Read more about benzoyl peroxide...

Common over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide brand names

  • Proactive
  • Benzaderm Gel
  • Neutrogena On-the-Spot
  • Glytone Gel
  • Persa-Gel
  • MD Formulations Benzoyl Peroxide 10
  • Fostex
  • Clearasil
  • Different generic benzoyl peroxide creams

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is another forms of ingredients used to treat non inflammatory acne lesions. It is moderately effective and  usually used as a alternative treatment to benzoyl peroxide or topical retinoid. It improve skin by correcting unusual peeling of skin cells. Salicylic acid mostly found in OTC lotions, cleansers and pads. It is sold over-the-counter in strength ranges from 0.5% to 2%. Read more about salicylic acid...

Common OTC salicylic acid brand names

  • Oxy products
  • Noxzema Anti-Acne Gel
  • Noxzema Anti-Acne Pads
  • Neutrogena Acne Rapid Clear Daily Treatment PadsStridex
  • Dermalogica Medicated Clearing Gel
  • Olay 7 In 1 Anti-Aging S A Acne Cleanse
  • Clearasil Clearstick

Sulfur and resorcinol

These two ingredients are mostly found together in acne treatments. When both present in the treatment product, they help to remove comedones and other dead skin cells by reducing excess oil. The strength varies from 2% for resorcinol to 5%-8% in sulfur. It is usually found as cream, ointment and soaps. Read more about sulfur and resorcinol...

Common OTC sulfur and resorcinol brand names

  • Clearasil Medicated Blemish Cream
  • Clearasil Medicated Blemish Stick
  • Rezamid Lotion
  • Acne-Aid Gel
  • Acnomel Skin Tone
  • Acnomel Vanishing
  • Glytone Flesh Tinted Lotion

Alcohol and acetone

Alcohol and acetone are mostly found together in acne treatments and are used for oily skin types. As acetone fights excess oil from the skin, alcohols try to reduce bacteria that cause acne. Their final outcome is to reduce the amount of pore blockage and result clean looking skin. They are usually found in astringents, cleansers, and toner.

Common OTC products containing alcohol and acetone

  • Tyrosum Liquid Acne Skin Cleanser
  • Glytone Acne Treatment Toner
  • Seba-Nil Liquid Cleanser

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an important Australian origin tree that has antiseptic agents used for the treatment of acne. A study showed that a gel made of tea tree oil had significantly reduced inflammatory and non inflammatory acne lesions. Although the action is slower, it has fewer side effect than 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion.

Common OTC products containing tea tree oil

  • Desert Essence – Blemish Touch Stick with Eco-Harvest Tea Tree Oil
  • GlyMed Plus – Serious Action Skin Gel with Tea Tree Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil with Benzoyl Peroxide Gel 5%
  • Doctor D. Schwab Controlling Mask with Tea Tree Oil

Alpha hydroxy acid

There are two types of Alpha Hydroxy Acid in over-the-counter. The first one is Glycolic acid which is obtained from sugar cane and the second  is lactic acid derived from milk. They play an important role in prevention of acne. They have  the ability to breakdown melanin layer and increase collagen synthesis. They are usually available in the form of soaps, creams, and lotions.

Common OTC brand name containing tea tree oil

  • Murad Post Acne Spot Lightening Gel
  • Neutrogena Advanced Solutions Complete Acne Therapy System
  • DCL Alpha Hydroxy Beta Hydroxy Acne Gel
  • MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel

› Over-the-counter acne treatments


prescription, mild acnemoderate acne, acne treatment,  alternative treatment, comedones,

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