Best Acne Treatments (Medications)

Best Acne Treatments – Medication in UK

Living with acne is not easy. It affects the everyday lives of many people of a wide range of ages and it can be damaging to their confidence and self-image. Fighting against acne is a daily struggle, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of medications that you can use to reduce or completely put an end to it. With some patience and a lot of dedication, you will find the right products for you. When it comes to medication, there are many different types. The main and most effective ones that you should know about if you want to use medication to fight acne are:

  1. Topical treatments (gels, creams, etc)

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide

It is an antiseptic with anti-inflammatory properties, which means this medication will reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin and your blackheads, too. Benzoyl peroxide is a cream that should be used in small quantity. Its side effects can include itching and dry skin. It will bleach/stain clothes easily.  It usually takes it up to six weeks to clear acne.

Topical retinoids

Topical retinoids acne

These medications exfoliate the skin, clearing it. They come in gel or cream form and they can be applied in moderation before going to sleep. They might cause some irritation and itching. Like Benzoyl peroxide, they require a six-week period in order to work.

Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid

It exfoliates and kiss bacteria on the skin. It comes in gel and cream form and it should be used twice a day. It may cause stinging sensations, dryness, and redness. It usually needs a month before it starts working.

  1. Antibiotic tablets

tetralysal acne antibiotics

They can be used with topical treatments to enhance the clearing in more severe cases. The most common antibiotics for acne are tetracyclines. Pregnant people are usually prescribed erythromycin. They usually take six-weeks before they start working on the acne. They should only be used with alternative methods of contraception, such as condoms.

  1. Hormonal therapies


Co-cyprindiol acne medication

A female contraceptive. This treatment is used for acne that does not clear with antibiotics, as it reduces the amount and production of sebum. It starts working visibly after 2-6 months. There is a small risk that people taking this medication will develop breast cancer. It may also cause blood clots. It may cause side effects such as weight changes, headaches, mood changes, bleeding in between periods.

Oral isotretinoin AKA Roaccutane

Roaccutane acne

If your acne is more severe, your doctor may advise you to take an oral retinoid medicine called isotretinoin (also known as Roaccutane). This reduces the amount of sebum your skin produces. This is a strong medicine and is only prescribed by or under the supervision of a dermatologist.

Be aware that your acne may worsen before it begins to improve. Isotretinoin can cause dry eyes, lips and skin, headaches, nose bleeds and pain in your joints. It may also cause more serious problems such as liver problems or raised cholesterol levels. You’ll be advised to have regular blood tests to check for any problems (eg with your cholesterol levels). Experts aren’t sure if isotretinoin can cause depression, but your doctor will monitor you for this. If you’ve had depression in the past, let your dermatologist know before you start treatment.

When having this treatment, you need to try and stay out of direct sunlight and use sunscreen and moisturisers (including lip balm).

If you’re a woman, you’ll need to use contraception while taking this medicine. This is because isotretinoin could cause significant birth defects in pregnancy. You should have a regular pregnancy test and a review meeting to discuss how your treatment is going. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss these and other issues with your dermatologist and ask questions before you start treatment.

Very rarely, isotretinoin may affect night vision. If this is important – for example, if you are planning to be a professional pilot, please discuss it with your dermatologist.

Non-pharmaceutical methods

Some options that you might want to consider can be ones that do not involve medication. For example, a comedone extractor, acne chemical peels or photodynamic therapy and acne laser therapy. These treatments do work for some people but their success cannot be guaranteed or medically proven, so they are not usually recommended by acne doctors.