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10 Topical Treatments for Acne

Acne is a chronic skin disorder characterized by blackheads (open comedones), white- heads (closed comedones), papules, pustules, cysts, and/or nodules. It is the most common skin condition in the United States. The lesions of acne may or may not be accompanied by inflammation. The primary cause of the disorder is the blockage of hair follicles and their accompanying sebaceous gland, which produces the skin oil called sebum. Acne is a common problem among adolescents, but adults can also be afflicted with the disease. It occurs most often on the face, but may also occur on the upper chest and back.

Ten topical treatments for acne are…


1. Tretinoin

Tretinoin (Retin-A) was the first topical retinoid, which are derivatives of vitamin A. Retinoids are most effective at preventing the formation of comedones, open or closed.  In other words, they are comedolytics. Tretinoin is effective as stand-lone treatment in individuals with noninflammatory (open or closed comedones) acne. It may also be used in combination with antibiotics in the treatment of mild to moderate inflammatory acne.

Tretinoin is available by prescription as a cream (0.025, 0.05, 0.1-percent), gel (0.01, 0.025-percent), liquid (0.05-percent), or microsphere gel (0.01-percent).  The cream has the lowest potency, while the liquid has the highest potency. It is applied once daily regardless of the vehicle. The most common adverse effect of tretinoin is skin irritation (cream is least irritating, liquid is most irritating), which can be minimized by starting at a low concentration and increasing as needed. The skin irritation caused by the drug may be compounded by excessive sun exposure.


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