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Acne treatment

Written by Caidr's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 27.02.2023 | 2 min read

If you have symptoms consistent with acne or have previously been told by your doctor that you have acne, then there are many treatment options. These can start small at home with some self-treatment, increasing up to creams and tablet medications, and finally, a referral to a skin specialist if needed.

Caidr pharmacists' top tips

There are various products that can help build a daily regimen to control acne; here are some options we would recommend.

Daily skin cleansers can help to unclog pores and minimize sweat build-up, thereby reducing outbreaks.

There are products that contain medicated cleaning pads that can reduce the appearance of spots or help clear the spots more quickly. Clearasil pads are a good example of this type of product. It contains salicylic acid, amongst other ingredients, to bring down inflammation and reduce spots.

Topical treatments

For more persistent spots or outbreaks of acne, antibacterial treatments can help to control symptoms. A topical product such as Clearasil Rapid Rescue Spot Treatment cream, which contains benzoyl peroxide, is shown to be effective. The cream must be applied regularly for six to eight weeks to achieve optimum control of acne spots. This product works by killing bacteria, and absorbing excess oil while releasing glycerine to hydrate the skin.

Adapalene is available over-the-counter, under the brand name Differin. It is not antibacterial but rather works by reducing inflammation.

Prescription treatments

Your doctor may also prescribe other antibiotic topical solutions or antibiotic tablets. These treatments will normally be performed as a time-limited trial initially, with 8-12 weeks as a good length of time to see whether the treatments are making a noticeable difference. The antibiotics are specially selected for their anti-inflammatory rather than anti-bacterial properties.

Women also have the option of being offered a hormonal option, as contraceptive pills can sometimes be used as an addition to treatment. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice before starting or continuing any acne treatment, as some may be harmful.

Referral to a skin specialist

If there is already evidence of scarring to the skin, your doctor may start treatment but also refer you to a skin specialist, a dermatologist at the same time.

Your doctor may consider referring you under other circumstances, such as if you've had inadequate success after three to six months of prescribed treatments. If you suffer from low mood or low self-esteem due to your skin, this is another valid reason for your doctor to consider an earlier referral to a skin specialist.

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