Natural Beauty Care Guide
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Acne Treatment

Although acne can be distressing, especially if itís accompanied by dark marks, and is not curable, you can rest assured that itís highly treatable. A variety of medications, both topical and oral, are quite effective. If you tend to have acne breakouts, you can probably treat the pimples with over-the-counter products, or prescription products.

Over-the-Counter Acne Treatment (Non Prescription)

If you tend to get mild acne with a few whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples, one of the following over-the-counter products (OTCs), or a combination, might help treat the blemishes. Always check with your doctor before selecting an OTC medication so that you will use products most compatible with your skin and that will not result in dryness or irritation of the skin.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Topical benzoyl peroxide has several uses in acne. Some consider its main function one of a drying and feeling agent, but it appears now that itís a much more remarkable substance than we had first realized. Besides drying out acne, it actually inhibits the growth of P. acnes bacteria. It can also assist in unclogging the pores and drying surface oil. Look for a cream, gel, or lotion containing between 2.5 and 5 percent benzoyl peroxide. (Higher concentrations designated as "maximal strength" will be too drying for many women of color.) Test the benzoyl peroxide product on unexposed skin to be sure you're not allergic or that irritation does not occur. Apply a small amount (a pea-size dot) of the benzoyl peroxide to your entire face nightly to treat the pimples that you have and to prevent new pimples from developing.

Hydroxy Acids

A member of the betahydroxy acid family, salicylic acid fights acne by exfoliating the skin, reducing bacteria, and decreasing the inflammation of acne. Dead skin cells are cleared away as well as excess oil. You can find salicylic acid or glycolic acid (an alphahydroxy acid) in many cleansers and acne washes, as well as lotions and pads. To help tame recurrent acne, use the wash once a day or twice if tolerated.


Another effective acne fighter is sulfur, which exfoliates the skin, clearing pores. It also fights bacteria. An over-the-counter product will contain 3 to 10 percent sulfur. However, some people are allergic to sulfur, and it has an unpleasant odor.

Vitamin A

This antioxidant is beneficial in the treatment of acne because it treats the cells beneath the skin surface that cause pore clogging. It also encourages exfoliation. Although prescription products containing vitamin A are commonly used to treat acne, an over-the-counter form is retinol. It can be found in creams, lotions, or ointments. Like other exfoliators, retinol can be irritating to the skin, so test it before using.

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