Buying Acne Treatment Creams – Prescription or Over the Counter?

The Acne Cream Buying Dilemma – Prescription or Over the Counter?

Acne Treatment Creams

Whether you should resort to prescription or over the counter acne cream preparations to cure your acne usually depends on how far your acne has progressed.   Over the counter acne cream products are, more often than not, suited to the treatment of mild acne or, at most, moderately severe inflammatory acne.   If, on the other hand, your condition has progressed to severe acne to severe cystic acne, your choices will probably narrow down to prescriptions for really effective acne treatment cream preparations.

Over the Counter Acne Cream Products for Mild Acne

If you want to go for over the counter solutions, you can purchase products that contain the following ingredients without a doctor’s prescription.

  • Benzoyl peroxide in low percentages – kills acne, but lacks anti-inflammatory abilities
  • Salicylic acid in small percentages – for exfoliating and unclogging follicles, but may cause irritation
  • Azelaic acid – an alternative to benzoyl peroxide that will not make skin as sore, but may irritate sensitive skin

Prescription Products for Moderately Severe Inflammatory to Severe Acne

Acne cream products that contain the following require a prescription.

  • Tazarotene – synthetic retinoid, keeps pores clear, but should not be used by pregnant women (requires effective contraception since it has produced birth defects in lab animals) 
  • Clindamycin – Semi-synthetic antibiotic, reduces acne, lessens inflammation, but decreases bacterial resistance
  • Erythromycin – antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, but decreases bacterial resistance.

To the acne sufferer, it may seem like any kind of acne cream, whether over the counter or prescription, while effective in treating acne has far too many side effects. However, an over the counter preparation that works on most kinds of acne DOES exist.

Nicotinamide Acne Treatment Cream (Nicotinamide is also known as Niacinamide)

ACNESSENTIAL, a 4% Niacinamide cream, was developed based on research done at the State University of New York College of Medicine where 76 patients were treated for moderately inflammatory acne. One group was given niacinamide gel, while the other was given the antibiotic clindamycin gel. Both groups were tested through twice-daily treatments over eight weeks.

The study showed that, while only 68% of the clindamycin group showed improvement, a whopping 82% of the niacinamide group improved. 

ACNESSENTIAL (a 4% Niacinamide cream) is NOT an antibiotic and will NOT produce resistant microorganisms in the patient, unlike clindamycin or erythromycin. Furthermore, even while it reduces the amount of sebum in the skin of a patient, it will not severely irritate the skin, unlike acids and peroxides.   What’s more, this topical Niacinamide may not only be used in conjunction with prescription treatments for severe to cystic acne; it can also work to minimize the irritating effects of these other medications as well.