This entry provides a brief overview of how topical acne treatments work.
There are two ways to directly treat acne: antibiotics to kill acne bacteria, or topical chemical solutions.
Because acne is actually present on everyone’s face normally there is no chance of “curing” it (with a few exceptions), so antibiotics have to be continuously used until you outgrow acne. Since Long term antibiotic usage can have nasty side effects, many people are just not comfortable using antibiotics for acne. Because of this, topical chemical solutions are by the most commonly chosen acne treatment.
The next obvious question is: how do topical solutions work? Well, they work by using one or more of the following chemicals: salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or the bactericidal chemical benzoyl peroxide.
As mentioned previously, acne is caused by the overactive growth of a bacterium that is very common and exists on everybody’s face. Topical treatments for acne tend to deal with removing oil, reducing the clogging effects that oil has on your pours, or killing the acne bacteria. Salicylic and glycolic acid work to unclog your pours and are often combined with other chemicals that help to remove excess facial oil, effectively giving the acne bacteria less “food” to eat off of. Benzoyl peroxide treatments focus on killing the bacteria directly.
If you have mild acne, either one of the two above approaches may work, but for more serious forms of acne, you really need to treat all three sources (oil, clogged pours, and the bacteria) at the same time. That is the topic of discussion for a future entry about Proactive Solution.