What Are My Options to Address Mild Acne?

I have moderate acne and I don't know what I can do to clear it up.

Doctor Answers (4)

Acne treatments

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Mild acne treatment approach includes the use of proper skin cleansers and moisturisers, in combination with appropriate topical creams, e.g. benzoyl peroxide products, vitamin A-based retinoid creams, and topical antibiotics.


Toronto Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Treatments for mild acne

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A good place to start treatment of mild acne is a benzoyl peroxide (BP) wash. There are many different ones over the counter. Studies have shown that lower strength BP products are just as effective as higher strength without the irritation that higher strengths may cause. Benzoyl peroxide products also come in creams or gels.

There are also sulfur/resorcinol combinations that help dry up individual pimples. I usually recommend treating the entire area where acne breaks out and not individual pimples alone because treatment usually helps prevent new breakouts as well.

Prescription medications that work well for mild acne include topical antibiotics, surfur/sulfacetamide combinations, topical retinoids (Retin A, Differin, Tazorac), a new acne medication, Aczone (topical dapsone), and combinations of topical antibiotics/benzoyl peroxide/retinoids.

If the lesions are deeper under the skin and not just on the surface, the over the counter products are not sufficient because they simply don’t reach deep enough to treat cystic or nodular (deeper forms) acne. For that you may need a prescription oral medication.

Also, I do tell my patients to avoid milk and dairy products as these tend to contribute to acne breakouts. In addition to the usual sources of dairy, like milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and even milk chocolate, milk products are also present in such things as protein shakes or muscle building bars/shakes, etc.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Good starter for mild-to-moderate acne

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I agree, a local dermatologist will certainly be able to help you. 

Assuming it is acne that you are dealing with, I think a good place to start is with a daily benzoyl peroxide wash (over-the-counter is OK) and a leave on "retinoid" type cream (such as tretinoin or adapalene) which requires a prescription. 

Initially this combination may cause some dryness (use a moisturizer as needed) but give it at least 2 months to start working. 

Connor Patterson, MD
Baton Rouge Dermatologist

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Best acne medications

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I would suggest you see a dermatologist to evaluate your skin and give you recommendations. Sometimes over-the-counter products can be enough, but most often, I suggest some type of prescription medication (topical and/or oral) in addition. Take your current products in with you and ask your physician if any of those should change as well.

F. Victor Rueckl, MD
Las Vegas Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.