Got breakouts? Proven tips for clear skin

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Acne can be an emotionally challenging condition for people of almost any age. The American Academy of Dermatology says acne affects up to 50 million people each year.


Fortunately, there are a variety of products that can help you manage acne. If you or your child is dealing with acne, check out some of the most popular options to treat this condition.


Salicylic acid

What it does: Reduces redness and unclogs pores.

Side effects: Minor redness, peeling or stinging.

How to get it: Drugstore acne cleansers, toners, pads and creams. Dermatologists offer higher strength products and peels.


Benzoyl peroxide

What it does: Kills bacteria in the pores that causes acne.

Side effects: Dryness, redness, peeling or stinging. May bleach hair or clothing.

How to get it: Drugstore acne washes, creams and gels. Dermatologists offer products that combine benzoyl peroxide with other ingredients, such as an antibiotic.



What it does: Decreases the buildup of cells within pores.

Side effects: Dryness, redness, peeling and burning that can be severe. Should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women or women who may become pregnant.

How to get it: Only available from a dermatologist. Usually used for moderate to severe acne only.



What it does: Kills acne bacteria on the skin.

Side effects: Dryness and irritation. Some antibiotics can cause antibiotic resistance, especially if not used as directed by a doctor. This means the bacteria is no longer affected by the antibiotic and the medicine will no longer work correctly.

How to get it: Only available from a dermatologist. Some antibiotics are applied to the skin. Others are taken as a pill.


Getting breakouts under control can improve self-confidence and emotional well-being. If drugstore products don’t work for you, ask your doctor about stronger options. If your acne treatment is too drying, try a facial moisturizer labeled “non-comedogenic,” which means it won’t clog pores.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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