Acne Creams At A Glance
- Best Results3-6+ weeks
- Treatment Recovery0 days
- Procedure TimeTopical application
- Skin SpecialistClinician
- Duration of ResultsMonths-Years
- Back to WorkNA
Asian Skin Rejuvenation
Most cases of mild to moderate acne can be treated with creams & washes. Creams can help reduce the number of acne-causing bacteria on your skin. Vitamin A creams can also decrease blackheads, and oil production, & help your skin repair acne scars. Dermatologists at Cutis Clinic can tailor a skin care program based upon your acne type and skin sensitivities.
FactsFacts on creams for treating acne
- Antibiotic creams can reduce the number of bacteria on the skin
- Antibiotic creams should always be combined with retinol or retinoids to combat any acne bacteria resistance
- Vitamin A creams form the foundation of treating blackheads and early acne lesions
- Application of creams should be tailored according to your skin sensitivity and lifestyle
- Breakout creams can reduce pimples within days of application
- Acne Prevention creams take 6-8 weeks before results are seen
What creams are available for the treatment of acne?
Several types of acne-fighting creams are available including-
Antibiotics: these creams kill acne-causing bacteria on your skin. Creams are safe and most can be used in pregnancy. Ideally antibiotic acne creams are used to help reduce breakouts.
Vitamin A / Retinol/ Retinoid creams: These form the foundation of acne treatment and address the cause of acne. Vitamin A creams are acne prevention creams. There are many types of vitamin A creams including over the counter retinol & prescription retinoids. The ideal cream will depend on facts such as your skin sensitivity and type of acne. Specialists recommend you apply retinol or retinoid creams to acne prone areas, and not just spots. Apply every second night and increase your application if you don’t experience any skin irritation.
Do I need a prescription for acne creams?
Most acne creams do NOT require a prescription. As a guide-
Non-prescription over the counter creams include
- Retinol, Retinyl palmitate, Retinaldehyde
ProactivePrescription creams used to treat acne include the following
- Retreive, Isotrex and Stivel A
How should I apply creams?
Acne cream treatments will depend on the type of cream prescribed. Your medical dermatologist will instruct you in regards to treatment and your application regime.
Break out creams can be applied to acne spots for that emergency breakout or new pimple. Examples of creams used to treat acne breakouts include Erycacne, Duac, Benzac AC cream and Clindatech lotion. Other breakout preparations include hydrocolloid dressings that may contain salicylic acid.
Prevention creams should be applied to acne prone areas such as the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. These prescription creams usually contain a derivative of Vitamin A. Acne prevention creams, as the name suggest, should be use at least 3-6 nights per week. Acne prevention creams help decrease oil production and blackheads, and can prevent acne from forming. Examples of acne prevention creams include Differin, Epiduo, Retreive, Isotrex, Stivel A, and Zorac.
How long does it take for my acne to improve?
Break out creams can remove pimples within days of use- in some cases creams can decrease the size of zits within 24 hours. Acne Prevention Creams however, may take at least 6-8 weeks to start working. Prevention creams are aimed at decreasing new outbreaks of acne. In some cases they can treat mild acne scarring.
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What treatments are available if creams don’t work?
Acne creams are often the first stage in treating acne. If your acne is severe, scarring, or has not improved with creams, Specialist may prescribe tablets, including antibiotics, anti-hormone treatments or in very severe cases, Oratane, Accutane or Roaccutane.
Female patients who have a pre-period flare up of acne may benefit from hormonal control using the oral contraception pill.
Omnilux or Healite Blue or Red light phototherapy can also be combined with creams, however phototherapy only provides temporary improvement of acne.
Can chemical peels be combined with creams?
Yes! Gentle chemical peels with AHA Glycolic acid can be safely combined with all types of creams, including vitamin A & antibiotic creams. Other peels that are used at Clinic Cutis include BHA or salicylic acid peels & retinoid acid peels. Chemical peels are ideal for patients who suffer from congested skin, blackheads, open pores, and mild– early acne scars.
Chemical peels can complement the effectiveness of Vitamin A creams, and help decongest blocked pores and reduce excessive oil production.
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Do creams treat acne scars?
Very mild and early cases of acne scarring can be improved with prescription retinoid creams. Results are seen after 3-4 months of use. A more effective method of treating early acne scars is with the use of vascular lasers or Tixel.
How much do creams for acne cost?
Much cheaper than you might think! Start off with a good formulation of retinol. My recommended brands include Obagi & AspectDr.
Most creams for acne are on the PBS and subsidised by the Government. Prescription creams range in price from $16 to $40.
A simple skin care regime is important for acne prone patients. Matching the right product for your skin type can make a huge impact on control of your acne. More information in the skin care section of this website.
- Cleaning your skin twice a day forms the foundation of your acne skin care regime. Dermatologists recommend a non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol.
- Avoid toners as they may irritate inflamed acne prone skin.
- Moisturisers protect the surface of your skin and help prevent water loss and excessive oil production. Moisturisers also ‘rehydrate’ your skin and can reduce the irritation from acne creams.
More tips on how to look after your skin @101.skin or @drdavinlim
Is Proactive an effective treatment for acne?
The active ingredient in Proactive is Benzoyl Peroxide. This chemical can help reduce the bacterial counts on your skin, and may improve mild cases of acne. Proactive is most effective on pustular or zit like acne lesions. Benzoyl Peroxide is also an active ingredient in Benzac Cream and Benzac AC wash, as well as PBS listed medications such as Epiduo.
Proactive does not work very well in cases of hormonal acne, jawline acne, adult onset acne, and severe cystic acne.
Davin’s perspective on creams for acne prone skin
Creams are often the first-line treatment in cases of mild acne. A simple way of understanding how creams work is to divide creams into two groups- breakout creams and acne prevention creams.
Prescription creams are more effective compared to over-the-counter acne creams however they have much more side effects such as skin irritation & dryness. Start with a GOOD over-the-counter non-prescription retinol. Breakout creams can shorten the duration of zits & pimples, whilst prevention creams are designed to reduce the formation of blackheads, clogged pores, and oily skin. In turn, this can reduce the formation of acne-causing bacteria. Factors such as skin sensitivity, type of acne, and what products you use will enable your Specialist to find the correct combination of acne creams.
Disclaimer: I do NOT treat acne. My work is purely procedural, namely, I treat severe acne scars with scary lasers & surgical techniques. If you have acne, please see my colleagues at Clinic Cutis.
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