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The Truth about the "Best" Acne Medications

When faced with a breakout, many individuals will turn to medications in order to rapidly treat their acne. But what are the best treatments, and is medication really the answer?

Oral acne medication is expensive, body-altering, and it comes with many unwanted side effects. Acne medication should only be used in the most severe cases, such as with acne with the potential to leave deep scars, or with acne that is constantly painful. In any other cases, you should instead opt for a consistent skincare routine that is proven to get rid of acne with healthy ingredients.

While some rare cases of severe acne may benefit from a doctor visit, medications for acne are unlikely to be the best option compared to other skincare alternatives.

Young woman applying cream on her face.

The Best Medications And Treatments For Acne

Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, and retinoids make up the majority of prescribed acne medications, but they can often also be found in over-the-counter treatments.

Most people do not need prescription acne treatment. Instances in which you may need to go to the doctor are mostly related to the very rare true cases of cystic acnelasting long enough to cause scarring, with symptoms like:

  • Painful acne that is particularly large and dep

  • Acne that is painful to the touch or bleeding

  • Big, pus-filled cysts

Other than those very rare cases, solving your acne with an over-the-counter treatment is almost always possible, and using a skincare regimen like the Exposed products can clear up your acne without risking the common side effects of medication.

Doctors can be costly and time-consuming, especially when you could be getting similar or better effects with more convenient products.

Remember if you are already taking prescribed oral medications for acne, do not stop taking them until you've spoken with a doctor first, as you may need to taper off instead of stopping abruptly.

Regular, Consistent Skin Care First

If you go to a doctor, they will almost certainly give you medication, even if you don't need it. Prescriptions for medications can only be given by a dermatologist or doctor, which often makes medication a pricey option.

The majority of acne is not cystic acne, and if your acne is mild to moderate, the right over-the-counter treatment will most likely work better. Try a topical product or regimen of products that could be just as effective before seeking out medication, which can have unwanted and potentially severe side effects.

At Exposed Skin Care, we understand that an effective skincare routine is the most important step to fighting acne, so our products are gentle enough to be protective, and strong enough to lead to real results. We offer three kits, in Basic, Expanded, and Ultimate options, that contain all the acne treatment products most people could ever need.

Ultimately, choosing the best acne treatment will depend on your skin type and what kind of acne you usually have. Mild-to-moderate breakouts can be prevented or treated with a gentle, consistent skincare regimen, although in rare cases of those with more severe acne, one may wish to incorporate medications into their regimen.

 

The Exposed Skincare Ultimate Kit
The Exposed Skincare Ultimate Kit.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide, a chemical compound, is known to kill microbes associated with pimples. It is a topical medication that carries oxygen beneath the surface of the epidermis. This reduces p.acnes bacteria because they are anaerobic, meaning they can’t survive long in the presence of oxygen.

One side effect of benzoyl peroxide is dry and irritated skin. To prevent these side effects, we use only 3.5% benzoyl peroxide in our Acne Treatment Serum. This percentage is strong enough to beat acne, but gentle enough to maintain the skin's moisture.

Benzoyl Peroxide is an almost universally effective treatment for acne, from moderate to severe cases. Because it is an effective antimicrobial treatment, it is effective against both pimples and cysts. Only in very mild cases of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) is Benzoyl Peroxide a less effective treatment.

Because benzoyl peroxide works by introducing oxygen into your pores, it works as an antibacterial treatment against P. acnes but it does not cause bacterial resistance. Antibiotic medication, on the other hand, can create bacteria that are resistant to medications and nearly impossible to kill- which can be dangerous not only for your skin, but for your whole body. This makes topical benzoyl peroxide an excellent alternative to antibiotics.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, breaks up the oil and dead cells clogging pores and exfoliates the skin. In low concentrations, it is proven to reduce acne lesions and works best to reduce mild cases of blackheads and whiteheads.

Products at Exposed Skin Care that contain salicylic acid include our Facial CleanserClearing Tonic, and Clear Pore Serum. All of these products contain salicylic acid at a low but effective concentration that will not irritate the skin.

Because Salicylic Acid works by exfoliating skin, high concentrations can cause skin sensitivity, irritation, and injury. The best products, therefore, combine it with other soothing ingredients. For example, in order to prevent dryness and irritation, we use sage extract along with salicylic acid in the Exposed Facial Cleanser.

Young woman looking in mirror.

Retinoids

Retinoids are a very broad class of acne treatments that include anything from mild over-the-counter products to serious prescription medications that should only be taken as a last resort. Retinoids are concentrated derivatives of vitamin A, and they work by regulating the life cycle of the skin cells.

The strongest retinoid available, isotretinoin, is commonly known as Accutane. Accutane is an oral acne medication only available with a prescription, and while it can be effective in treating cystic acne, it comes with many potentially serious side effects.

In one study, azelaic acid worked just as well as prescription tretinoin, but with fewer side effects. That's why we opted to use azelaic acid in the Exposed Clearing Tonic.

Someone looking for a way to hasten the shedding of dead skin cells without resorting to a harsh retinoid could also consider a gentler exfoliating alternative, like the Exposed Microderm Scrub.

 

The Exposed Microderm scrub
The Exposed Skincare Microderm scrub.

Hormone Regulators

Hormone imbalances can lead to acne in a number of ways. Acne is common in teenagers because this is when androgens like testosterone begin to stimulate the production of sebum. Stress hormones also exacerbate acne when they send a distress signal to the body, triggering the inflammation response. Adult women are especially susceptible to these hormone imbalances during menstruation, while taking hormonal birth control, throughout pregnancy, or during menopause.

Just because hormone imbalances are causing your acne does not mean hormonal medicine is the best solution.

If you are sexually active and considering taking birth control as a contraceptive method, then you may see some reduction in your acne. However, using a hormonal contraceptive solely to fight acne could lead to side effects that can be avoided by using a topical product like Exposed to get rid of your acne first.

Don't Hate Your Hormones

Here is what we would like to stress: Your hormone levels will fluctuate throughout your life, whether it be because of puberty, pregnancy, or something else. These changes in hormones are normal,and even healthy. It means your body is working properly.

If your hormone levels cause acne, you don't need to take oral medication that changes your perfectly natural hormone levels. You can instead simply use a face wash or skincare routine that reduces excess levels of oil.

Taking contraceptives to treat acne would be like noticing a lightbulb in your house is broken, so you re-do the entire electrical grid. All you really needed to do was change the lightbulb.

So instead of adding hormones into your routine, try an effective facewash first. For example, the Exposed Facial Cleanser uses Pro-Vitamin B5 to regulate oil production.

Before and after photos of an Exposed Skincare user
Rachel Peters was finally able to get rid of her acne using Exposed.

In Conclusion

While more aggressive, prescription medications can be effective against severe acne, the first line of defense should always be a gentle but effective, topical skincare regimen.

The products offered at Exposed Skincare are not only gentle but also include some of the most effective acne medications like Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid in ideal concentrations.

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