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Can I treat my acne with over-the-counter medication? (Beauty query of the day)

Dr Shefali, a skin specialist, answers this beauty query.

OTC acne treatmentsI am 26-year-old woman and I have an acne problem. I do not want to opt for expensive treatments but do want to treat my acne. Can I do something about it at home? What medication should I buy?

Answered by Dr Shefali Trasi Nerurkar

Over-the-counter or OTC products are non-prescription products available at the chemist without a doctor's recommendation / prescription. There is a wide range of anti-acne medication available ranging from face wash, acne cream, acne mask, soaps, acne mark removal creams, etc. The ingredients in these products are mainly benzoxyl peroxide, salicylic acid and clindamycin. (Read: Mega guide to beat acne)

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However, you cannot pick up any and start using it to treat your acne. One should be very careful while selecting any OTC products for acne. Depending on the type of skin, one should select a face wash containing salicylic and topical antibiotic gel for inflamed acne. It is best to consult a dermatologist before using over-the-counter acne preparation.

A few products you can choose from are Clearasil cream/soap/face wash, No Marks acne cream, Acnil soap, Garnier acne cream, Proactive acne kit.

Anti-acne creams and lotions have to be used for over 2-4 weeks to see visible difference in the size and number of acne. Slowly, the acne decreases but 6-8 weeks of therapy is advisable for prolonged improvement. These can be used later for any new outbreak to control the inflammation. (Read: Home remedies and face packs to fight pimples)

Though results are visible results within a week or two, the marks take 4-6 weeks to lighten completely.

Apart from these, herbal preparation containing neem, tea tree oil are also effective in treating acne.

Dr Shefali Trasi Nerurkar is a skin specialist with three years of PG training in dermatology, venerology and leprology. She practises at various clinics and hospitals in Mumbai. She is the daughter of celebrity dermatologist Dr Shrilata Suresh Trasi. Dr Shefali is also a member of the European Academy of Dermatology and American Academy of Dermatology.

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