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by Hellwig J

(Pimples; Blackheads; Whiteheads; Acne Vulgaris)



Acne may require a combination of treatments. Most acne does not require surgery. Some treatments may take several weeks to work. Your skin may actually appear to get worse before it gets better.


  • Over-the-counter topical medications such as cleansers, creams, lotions, and gels—to reduce the amount of oil and/or bacteria in the pores. These medications may contain one of the following ingredients:
    • Benzoyl peroxide
    • Salicylic acid
  • Prescription topical medications—includes cleansers, creams, lotions, and gels to reduce the amount of oil and/or bacteria in the pores. Examples include:
    • Antibiotics, such as clindamycin, erythromycin
    • Retinoids, such as tretinoin adapalene
  • Oral antibiotics—to control the amount of bacteria in pores, including:
    • Tetracycline
    • Clindamycin
  • Oral medications—to control androgen levels, including:
    • Birth control pills
    • Spironolactone
  • Oral retinoids—to reduce the size and secretions of sebaceous glands. This medication is only used for severe cases of cystic acne.
    • Isotretinoin—must not be taken by women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant due to the risk of serious birth defects.


There are a number of procedures that can be used by your doctor or dermatologist to treat acne, examples include:
Some of the procedures have risks, such as scarring and infection.


The Acne Resource Center Online

The American Academy of Dermatology



Canadian Dermatology Association



Acne. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed December 12, 2013.

Acne. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 18, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2013.

Questions and answers about acne. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Updated May 2013. Accessed December 12, 2013.

9/2/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Arowojolu A, Gallo M, Lopez L, Grimes D, Garner S. Combined oral contraceptive pills for treatment of acne. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(3):CD004425.


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