Skin conditions

Acne

(Pimples)

  • Also known as
  • Zits
  • Acne vulgaris

About Acne

Acne is a common skin disease that causes pimples. Pimples form when hair follicles under your skin clog up. Most pimples form on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Anyone can get acne, but it is common in teenagers and young adults. It is not serious, but it can cause scars.

No one knows exactly what causes acne. Hormone changes, such as those during the teenage years and pregnancy, probably play a role. There are many myths about what causes acne. Chocolate and greasy foods are often blamed, but there is little evidence that foods have much effect on acne in most people. Another common myth is that dirty skin causes acne; however, blackheads and pimples are not caused by dirt. Stress doesn't cause acne, but stress can make it worse.

If you have acne

  • Clean your skin gently
  • Try not to touch your skin
  • Avoid the sun

Treatments for acne include medicines and creams.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Top Medications for Acne according to our users

Button Group. All currently active

All Medications for Acne

  • Acne agent > Retinoid

    • Accutane
      (Isotretinoin)
      Prescription only

      Accutane (Isotretinoin) may be the last hope if you have severe, resistant, nodular acne. Talk to your doctor about the risk of birth defects, serious side effects, access restrictions and required patient contract to make sure it's right for you.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
    • Renova
      (Tretinoin)
      Prescription only

      Renova (Tretinoin) isn't a cure for fine lines and wrinkles, but it's clinically proven to improve them.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Cream, gel, or ointment
  • Acne agent > Antibiotic

    • Benzamycin
      (Benzoyl peroxide / Erythromycin)
      Prescription only

      Benzamycin (Benzoyl Peroxide / Erythromycin) is a topical combination acne treatment that may work better for people who didn't see an improvement when taking either medicine alone or simply don't want to take pill medication. You need to be careful because it can bleach your hair, clothing and other fabrics. It also needs to be stored in the refrigerator and is only good for three months..

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Cream, gel, or ointment
    • Benzoyl peroxide
      Prescription or OTC

      Benzac (Benzoyl Peroxide) is a very popular topical acne treatment you can get over-the-counter or by prescription that may be better for people who don't want to take pill medication. Just be careful because it can bleach your hair, clothing and other fabrics.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Cream, gel, or ointment
      • Lotion
      • Liquid
      • Topical solution
    • Cleocin
      (Clindamycin phosphate)
      Prescription only

      Cleocin T (Clindamycin Phosphate) is good for treating many bacterial infections and is available as a generic. If you're taking the vaginal form, you have to avoid sex and tampons for the period your doctor tells you to. The topical form can cause skin sensitivity and irritation.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Topical
      • Cream, gel, or ointment
      • Foam
      • Vaginal cream
      • Vaginal suppository
      • Injection
    • Erygel
      (Erythromycin)
      Prescription only

      Akne-Mycin (Erythromycin) is a very common acne treatment you apply to the skin that may work better when combined with other topical medicines.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Cream, gel, or ointment
      • Topical solution
    • Tetracycline
      Prescription only

      Acnecycline (Tetracycline) treats many different types of infections and is cheap, but dosing and drug interactions may be somewhat of a hassle.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Cream, gel, or ointment
  • Antibiotic > Tetracycline

    • Doxycycline
      Prescription only

      Vibramycin (Doxycycline) is good for treating many bacterial infections. It is also available as generic. However, it can make birth control pills less effective. You also have to protect yourself against sunburn.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Delayed release capsule
      • Liquid
    • Minocycline
      Prescription only

      Solodyn (Minocycline) is an effective way to treat certain skin infections, acne, and rosacea, but you'll need to use barrier methods of birth control since it can make birth control pills less effective and cause birth defects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
      • Extended release capsule
  • Antibiotic > Macrolide

    • Erythromycin
      Prescription only

      Ery-Tab (Erythromycin) works well to treat a variety of bacterial infections, but check for drug interactions before taking it.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Delayed release tablet
      • Extended release

Keratolytic emmolient

  • Salicylic acid
    Prescription or OTC

    Salex (Salicylic Acid) treats a variety of skin conditions, but shouldn’t be used by children or people with kidney or liver problems.

    Was it worth it?
    • Available dosage forms:
    • Cream, gel, or ointment
    • Gel
    • Liquid
    • Shampoo
    • Patch
    • Plaster
  • Antihypertensive > Diuretic

    • Aldactone
      (Spironolactone)
      Prescription only

      Aldactone (Spironolactone) is helpful when added to another diuretic to get rid of excess fluid in your body. Doesn't work well on its own.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill

Tips, success stories, and coping strategies for Acne

What tip would you give someone like me who was just diagnosed?
  • Don't pick at it or pop your pimples
  • this website gives shitty advice, sorry. - a scientist
  • Don't touch it
  • Use soap with sulfur in it
  • Drink lots of water
What’s your best coping strategy?
  • Took out my copper IUD.
  • Use decompression toys to avoid touching face
  • Stop touching your face
  • Changing face cleansing regimen
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Wash my face less
Besides medications, what else has worked for you?
  • Sulfur soap
  • Vitamins
  • Water