Prescription acne medicine

A number of prescription acne medicine are used these days to remove acne. These prescription medicine attack the various factors that contribute to the formation of acne. In addition to the topical and oral antibiotics alone, dermatologists may combine therapies in order to achieve long-term control and resolution.

The following are lists of prescription acne medicine used in most of the time, this topic should be used as a supplement to, and NOT a substitute for, the knowledge of healthcare practitioner.  

  1. Topical prescription medication
  2. Oral prescription medication
  3. Corticosteroid injections 

1. Topical prescription acne medicine

The most efficient medication of acne are available only under doctor prescription. Like any other prescription medication they should be used after examination and supervision of dermatologist. Topical prescription acne medicine include:

Topical antibiotics

Azelaic acid

Is an acid found naturally that has been used for treatment of acne. It reduces p. acne population and also minimize inflammation.  It is usually applied in the forms of cream. Read more..


Is another forms of antibiotics acts against a broad spectrum of bacteria. Like azelaic acid, it is used in the treatments of acne vulgaris for both anti-inflammatory and anti microbial function. Read more..


It has similar activity as erythromycin. It has been used for a long time for the treatment of acnea. Read more..


It is the first  group of broad-spectrum antibiotics adapted to the topical treatment of acne. However, it is not frequently used in most developed countries as a topical treatment of acne because of undesirable side effects of yellow staining of skin and its odour. Read more..


It is among the oldest anti-bacterial agent used to treat acne. It is found in most lotions used to treat acne. Its main action is in reducing inflammatory lesions. Read more..

Topical retinoid

Retinoid is an ingredient chemically related to vitamin A. They are very effective as anti acne medications. It normalizes the abnormal growth of skin cell by unplugging the sebaceous follicle that cause comedones. In general, retinoids are used to treat acne both as topical and systemic forms.

Some of the topical retinoids currently availableas acne treatments are the following:


It is a family of  naturally occurring vitamin A that are necessary for maintaining general health including skin quality and eye health.  It is available as a gel, cream, or solution. The best result can be seen after several weeks of treatment.


It is a synthetic retinoid that is available as  gel or cream. It has strong retinoid and anti-inflammatory activity. 


It is another forms of synthetic retinoid that are available in the forms of   gel or cream. Unlike tretinoin,  it acts on the follicular cell cycle by a biochemical pathway.

There are also a number of antibiotics that are used topically to treat acne that is not listed here. A physician should decide for each patient on whether a topical antibiotics are necessary and which topical acne antibiotic is prescribed.

2. Oral prescription medication

Oral Antibiotics

Oral antibiotics have been a basis of systemic therapy for moderate to severe acne for many years. Like topical antibiotics , oral antibiotics acts by reducing bacteria responsible for acne breakout.  In addition, they also help minimize inflammation of the skin.

The most frequent oral antibiotics prescribed for treatments of acne includes the following:


Oral tetracycline is the most widely used oral antibiotics. In order to treat moderate to severe acne, the starting dose of tetracycline is from 500 to 1000 milligrams per day. The dose will be reduced when improvement noticed. Higher dose may be prescribed for the treatment of very severe acne. Tetracycline should not be taken by pregnant woman and young children younger than 8 years of age as it cause permanent teeth staining and skeletal defect in fetus.


Oral erythromycin is a prescription acne medicine which is a substitute to tetracycline. It is usually used to treat acnes that is not getting better with other treatment options or used for treatment of moderate to severe acne. It is considered safe for use in young children and  pregnant women. It is also used topically to treat acne.


Oral minocycline are antibiotic usually prescribed for acne. It is synthetically derived from tetracycline and are the most expensive options for treatment of acne. Although it is rarely used as a solo treatment, some studies suggested that minocycline is more effective in treating inflammatory acne than tetracycline.


Oral doxycyline is a group of antibiotics synthetically derived from  tetracycline. It is  used to treat moderate to severe inflammatory acne and many other infection caused by bacteria. Like other prescription drugs, it is available only with prescription. This group of antibiotics should not be taken by pregnant woman and young children.

Oral contraceptives (Hormonal Therapies)

It is known that male hormones (androgen) have physiologic effects on sebaceous follicles that results in the formation of acne. Hormonal therapy is implemented in order to block acne resulting effects of male hormones. A female hormone called estrogen is used to counteracts the effects of androgenic hormones that results in reduction of  sebum secretion. Oral contraceptives containing estrogen are usually prescribed in hormonal therapy of acne in females. For those woman who does not respond to other acne medications, hormonal therapy may be a treatment choice.

Accutane (Isotretinoin)

It is a potent synthetic oral retinoid usually reserved to treat very severe forms of cystic acne.  It has been found that most acne treatments have little effect on treating severe acne. Consequently, dermatologist usually prescribe accutane to treat severe acne. It is also the most effective medicine available for the treatment of all forms of acne. Accutane is a strong prescription acne medicine that have a potential side effects.

3. Corticosteroid injections 

Cortisone injection is a potent anti-inflammation prescription acne medicine that is prescribed for short courses to treat very severe acne. A diluted solution of corticosteroid is injected directly into the cysts. This is usually done in the doctor's office and it quickly reduces the breakout in a few days. However, its  metabolic effect limits long term use.

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