Topical Acne Treatment

What is in the product?

Most topical acne treatment products contain the following active ingredients and are available in the form of washes, solutions, gels, lotions, creams, peels and ointment formulations:

• Retinoids – vitamin A-based medications
• Salicylic acid – a natural plant hormone also known as Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)
• Benzoyl peroxide – an anti-bacterial drying agent
• Glycolic acid – a naturally occurring organic acid also known as Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)

What does it do?

Products containing Retinoids regulate and normalise cell growth in the pore lining and thereby prevent clogging as well as providing anti-aging properties, while those containing Salicylic acid slow-down shedding of skin cells in the hair follicle, and have an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect.

Products containing Benzoyl peroxide sometimes also contain topical antibiotics like erythromycin and are very effective anti-bacterial agents reducing inflammation surrounding the hair follicle. Removing dead skin cells is a key approach to unclogging pores and can be achieved using Glycolic acid which acts as an exfoliant as well as accelerating the skin renewal process and is the most common type of acid peel.

How does it help acne?

For topical acne treatment, the goal of treating acne is to remove the plugging of hair follicles and skin pores, reduce sebum production and treat bacterial colonisation.

How to get the best results

For the treatment of mild acne, combination therapy using topical products containing benzoyl peroxide plus retinoids is most effective. Topical formulations containing vitamin A-based medications (retinoids) are usually applied in the evening, and those containing salicylic acid or glycolic acid are usually applied during the day.

Possible side-effects and what to do about them

Adverse reactions to topical acne treatments can be varied with the most common side-effects being irritation, drying and redness of the skin which can be alleviated with the use of emollient creams and lotions (substances that soften and soothe the skin).

Who should not use this treatment?

Individual hypersensitivity to certain products can occur, therefore it is always recommended to begin a treatment regime with products containing active ingredients at low concentrations. Tolerance to most products increases with regular use.

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