All four are dispensed in both gel and cream form that is topically applied to affected skin. It works as a “keratolytic” or peeling agent and is touted to clear pores and reduce bacterial counts.
Superficial irritation and skin drying are signs that the body is loosening lugs in the follicles and thus sloughs off dead cells. It is further claimed that these gels and creams prevent bacteria from entering the follicle thereby reducing the fatty acids that contribute to the plugs. They are generally cheap and easy to find.
Side effects include dryness, itching, redness due to irritation, and in some cases of skin sensitivity, swelling and scarring. There are also reports of irritation resulting from exposure to direct sunlight. Buyers are advised to take time to read the material and warnings that come with their purchase of products containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
2. Prescription Treatments
Adapalene (Differin) Applied once a day, adapalene gels/solutions are believed to effectively help control acne. While results may not be instantaneous and application may even stimulate the formation of even more pimples, users of Adapalene are advised to be patient. Depending on the user’s skin, results may take as long as 8-12 weeks,
Side effects: redness, drying, itching, scaling and stinging. Users are also advised to avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
Azelaic Acid (Azelex, Finacea) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/medmaster/a603020.html
Azelaic acid creams and gels are usually prescribed for treatment of acne and rosacea. It claims to eliminate bacteria that enter pores as well as decrease the production of keratin, a substance that leads to the formation of acne. Azelain acid only claims to help control acne but not treat it. Effects may take up to 4 weeks to be noticeable.
Side effects: redness, itching and stinging. In cases of allergy, rashes may also develop.
As treatment for acne and skin infections, Clindamycin comes in lotion and gel forms. It is applied twice a day and effects can take up to 12 weeks to show.
Side effects: dryness, oiliness, redness, itching and peeling. Taken orally as an antibiotic in capsule form, side effects include diarrhea, upset stomachs, vomiting, gas and in worse cases, bloody diarrhea and colon inflammation.
Highly effective yet also highly controversial, Isotretinoin, a derivative of Vitamin A, is often prescribed to treat severe forms of acne. Usually taken twice a day with meals, isotretinoin claims to reduce oil production by the skin’s oil glands that lead to acne. Pregnant women are strictly warned against using isotretinoin as it has been proven to cause miscarriage and birth defects in babies.
Side effects: The side effects of isotretinoin (Accutane) are numerous. Some of the more common are cracking of the lips, drying and peeling skin, sweating, flushing, fatigue, mild to severe depression, joint aches, nosebleeds, etc.
Ortho Tri-cyclen (Dianette/ Diane 35, etc.)
Oral contraceptives containing ortho tri-cyclen raise testosterone levels in women thereby reducing the hormones that cause severe acne. Reports however reveal a link between mild to severe depression and ortho tri-cyclen users that often result in pill-takers being put on anti-depressant treatment. (“‘Unbearable Depression’ of Women,” 2006, p. 20)
A combination of retinoic acid and Vitamin A, tretinoin is believed to help drain unplug follicles and increase the speed by which dead skin is replaced. Users are however warned that as tretinoin has to unplug the follicles first, pimples are therefore brought to the surface. (“Coming Face to Face,” 2002, p. B01)
“Adapalene (Topical).” MedlinePlus. 2006. Thomson Healthcare. 2000 Retrieved October 25,
2007 from: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/medmaster/a604001.html
“Azelaic Acid (Topical).” MedlinePlus. 2006.Thomson Healthcare. 2000 Retrieved October 25,
2007 from: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/medmaster/a603020.html
“Benzoyl Peroxide (Topical).” MedlinePlus. 2004. American Society of Health-System
Pharmacists, Inc. 2000 Retrieved October 25, 2007 from
“Clindamycin.” MedlinePlus. 2004. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. 2000