Acne Fighting Ingredients

The existing treatments for acne:

There are many shelf products for treating acne and not few prescribed medications. The variety is confusing, and there is no one treatment program that can be applied to everyone. Unfortunately, sometime it is necessary to study the method and find the best combination for us – by using the process of trial and error.

Benzoic Peroxide

Benzoic Peroxide as a specific application is a bacterium static product and (delays growth of bacterium) bacteria comedolitic (destroys comedos) which is efficient in cases of mild to medium acne. Among its benefits is the ability to penetrate the hair follicle and reach the bacterium causing the inflammation and eliminate it. In contrast to several types of antibiotic, he doesn’t create the effect of the bacteria durability.

It is sold over the counter, and can be found in different forms: lotions and creams. Many researches show its effectiveness (for examples: American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2004, pages 261-265; and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, November 1999, pages 710?716).

Its optimal concentration isn’t yet determined. From the aspect of anti-bacteria effect – as it seems there is no difference between low and high concentrations. The high concentrations give more comedolitic effect (destroys comedos). The main side effect of the product is a local irritation that is mostly prominent at the beginning of the treatment. About 1%-3% of the population is sensitive to the product and can develop skin inflammation which will require conclusion of treatment.

There are not many other substances that disinfect the skin in the same manner of the disinfection process achieved by Benzoic Peroxide. Alcohol and sulfur can be good disinfectors., but they are too dry and irritating and could worsen the skin condition and damage its ability to recover (from: American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, pages 217-223 and Cosmetics & Toiletries Magazine, March 2004).

There are several interesting researches in regard to the tea tree oil that prove the product as and efficient disinfector. A research that was published in the Medical Journal of Australia (Oct 1990) compared the efficiency of 5% tea tree oil to this of 5% benzoicperoxied. The results indicated “both treatments were efficient in reduction of infected pimples, whereas better result displayed with benzoic peroxide. The skin fatty was decreased significantly with benzoic peroxide. Unfortunately, most products seen on the shelf contain a little bit more than 1% tea tree oil, which is much less than the concentration used in the experiment. For particular acne situations, use of this substance can be sufficient. Its combination with the peeling substance (such as alpha and beta acids, hydroxyl and resorcinol) will be an effective combination – more than each one separately.

*note: benzoic peroxide contradicts the effectiveness of most retinoid for applications (ratin A, Tazorac) and therefore both can’t be used at the same time. In order to attain the two benefits, it is possible to use benzoic peroxide in the morning and retionoid in the evening (although adapalene (diffenin) stays solid and effective when is used with benzoic peroxide).


In a comprehensive survey of acne products, in which we examined which treatments on the market today answer the following three criteria:

  • Contains the chemical compounds (treatment ingredient) known to medicine today and proven to prevent and cure acne.
  • Contains natural compounds known for their efficacy as natural cures for acne and as compounds that soothe the skin and give it a clean and fresh appearance.
  • Received the highest rating in the user reviews that we gathered.



Antibiotic ointment for application on the skin,

The products are antibiotic based and they reduce the bacterium found in the follicle hair and in the sebaceous gland, and as it seems they have a direct effect also on inflammations. For this reason they are effective in mild –medium acne when the main component is inflammatory, but not in conditions involving comedos only.

The common products are in use based on erythromycin. The bacteria P Acne is resistant to this type of antibiotic. Although it isn’t clear how this resistant ability effect treatment, it is achieved possibly at a slower pace. It was proved in several researches that the combination of erythromycin and benzoic peroxide – enhances the treatment effectiveness, better than each one separately. There are also products in a form of gel or suspension with phosphate clindamycin.

Antibiotic taken through the mouth/orally

Antibiotic products taken in orally act in two different ways: a) subjugation of the P.Acnes bacterium growth b) Subjugation of the infection process.

Erythromycin – is considered effective in acne treatment, similarly to the tetracycline without causing any extra sensitiveness to the sun (like the tetracycline). The acne bacterium is durable to erythromycin more than the tetracycline. The related side effects are relatively mild.

Tetracycline – The antibiotic family is most common in acne treatments. Mostly used are tetracyclines, minocin, and doxylin. The side effects are connected with high dosages, and are expressed by nausea, vomiting and ringing tone in the ears. Use of these products in the long run can result is skin spots (pigmentation).

Other types of antibiotic are less common. Researches showed that antibiotic consumption through the mouth with a combination of retinoid application (see in the followings) or peeling products, can reduce acne outbursts (taken from: Cutis, June 2004, pages 6-10 and International Journal of Dermatology, January 2000, pages 45?50). The antibiotic taken through the mouth is considered effective, although its use should be considered carefully. The main implication needed to be taken into consideration is the development of durability by the bacterium. Elements that might cause recurrence of acne. (Dermatology, January 2003, pages 54-56; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology , April 2003, pages 813-831 and The General Meeting of the American March 2001, pages 135141; Society for Microbiology, May 2001). Elements

The Salicylic acid

The Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxyl acid (BHA). This is a beginning of a good treatment to all type of skins. This substance is multifunctional, and mostly deals with the systematic reasons of the pimples. Through decades, dermatologists registered salicylic acid as an effective keratolytic (peeler). But it isn’t just a peeling substance. The salicylic acid is a by product of aspirin (both are salicylic – the technical name of aspirin is acetyl salicylic – acid) and that way it also functions as an anti-inflammatory component. (Archives of Dermatology, November 2000, p.1390-1395). A combination of peeling with the decrease in inflammation portrays an important advantage to skin treatment, particularly a problematic skin characterized by pimples. Reduction in redness and swelling which are the causes for pimples can help the skin recovery, prevent scarring and reduce the chances for future outbursts.

The key for the prevention of pimples is avoidance of pores blockage. One way of achieving it is by improving the form of the pores’ tunnel. This tunnel is made of skin cells (epithelial tissue) that can be thick and an improper form – what’s preventing the normal flow of the fat out of the pores. In order to act in this tunnel it is necessary to peel inside the tunnel, and to remove the surplus of dead skin cells, The ability of the peeling substance such as alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) or mechanical scrubs – is limited when we are talking about skin that tend to produce pimples. This is since they don’t have the ability to penetrate the pores. Alpha Hydroxyl acids are watery dissolvent and can’t penetrate fat/oil. Mechanical scrubs have big particles that can’t influence inside the skin surface. The salicylic acid is the perfect answer. Its efficient peeling substance, water dissolvent and in that manner penetrates the pores and peels them. As stated previously, it also has an anti-inflammatory attribute so it can actually reduce irritation, swelling and redness.

Another aspect of the BHA involves acne treatment is the fact that it has anti bacterial attributes, Meaning it is a salicylic acid which is efficient in eliminating the bacteria causing acne.

The combination of all these attributes/elements together makes the salicylic acid one of the multi-functional components in dealing with the causes for acne.

It sounds good, but it is necessary to know which product is needed and how to use it, since not all products are made in a way that we can generate the most benefit from them. Concentration of the salicylic acid needs to be at least 5%, but 1%-2% is more efficient. In addition the PH of the product is a critical factor, In order for it to work as a skin peeler, the salicylic acid has to be in a 3 to 4 PH, If not it looses its ability to peel the skin (Cosmetic Dermatology, October 2001, p. 65-72). There are products like that in the market, and if you found one, it can be a good partner in the war against pimples.


These products that come in a gel or cream form for application on the skin, are products based on vitamin A. The most familiar product known to us is the Retinoid ietin – A. Additional products are differin (treitinoin) tazorac and more. The retinoid improves the form of the pores, and act by release of the Keratin cork, which blocks the hair follicle, They are considered as an effective treatment to acne (Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, August 11, 2004, page 726-735). Usually it is used once a day, during the evening hours. It can be used in combination with beta acids or alpha hydroxyl during the day, for the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of the retinoid by increasing its penetration to the skin. In order to decide frequency of use, as well as the combination and application order of these products, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist. Side effects of retinoid are usually a local irritation, and sometime a mild worsening of the condition throughout the first two weeks of treatment, which afterward disappear. These products cause the cornea layer (most exterior) of the skin to get even thinner and due to that increase the danger of sun burns infections. During the treatment period, it is essential to use sun screens. It is recommended not to use these products throughout pregnancy.

Photodynamic treatment

Also called light therapy. The treatment was found effective in acne treatment (Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy, June 2004, pages 91-95). This medical treatment uses topical medicine (for application) called aminolevulinic acid (medication used for treatment of pre-cancerous skin condition) particularly with low intensity laser or source of light called blue light (Source: American Academy of Dermatology, After the medication is applied, the patient sits in front of a source of light for 15-30 minutes. Often 3-5 treatments are necessary throughout a certain period of time, before any permanent improvement can be seen).

Azelaic acid

This De-Carboxylic acid was investigated initially in the 70’s as a treatment for pigmentation and by chance found as efficient for acne. In 1996 the FDA approved its usage for treatment of mild to medium inflammatin of acne. The exact mechanism is unknown, but it is antibacterial (bacterium contradicts) and also influences the peeling and the skin cells eliminations, in the facial skin surface as well as inside the pores. The substance doesn’t irritate. About 5% of patients complain about irritations and erythema. This is a lower percentage that the one reported by those who are treated with benzoic peroxide and retin- A. Unlike retin- A it doesn’t cause sensitivity to sun light. Therefore, it is efficient for treatment in sensitive skin, including sensitivity to sunlight. Its efficiency can be increased if it is combined with other ointments for application such as benzoic peroxide gel 4%, clindamycin gel 1%, retin A 0.025 cream, and more. The research showed that treatment with azelaic acid + benzoic peroxide presented better results than treatment with erythromycin + benzoic peroxide (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, August 2000, supplemental, p. 47-50), due to the substance ability to reduce pigmentation it is necessary to be careful when using it with peope who have dark skin.


The name of this substance is isotretinoin. The name of the medicine which caused a dramatic change in acne treatment we all know as: Roaccutane. This retinoid, which is taken orally, is actually cures most acne cases completely after four months of treatment. This medication is the only one that cures pimples, unlike other solutions, that can reduce or solve permanently the outbursts. Above 50% of those taking roaccutane for a one treatment cycle – will not develop acne in the future. Cases of skin that tends to become oily turns to be even less oily. These results increase significantly with people who take roaccutane for additional cycle of treatment (From: Skin Therapy Letter, March 2004, pages 1-4; Expert Opinion on Drug Safety, February 2004, pages 119-129; and Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2004, pages 726-735)… In spite of the medication advantages it is one of the last option doctors’ offer for acne treatment, due to the many serious side effects; The side effects include dryness of the skin and the mucous membrane (eyes, lips etc), Joints and muscles aches, influence the liver functions and the level of fat in the blood, depression and there are even several cases of suicidal contemplations which were recoded. Roaccutane isn’t given to pregnant women or women who plan pregnancy, since its ability to cause congenital defects. The medication is usually prescribed in cases of severe and stubborn acne, or in certain cases that are less difficult where the doctor anticipates the need for continued treatment, for instance for people in the age range of twenties and thirties.

Roaccutane reduces the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands (and therefore the skin “dries out”), and that way there is also reduction of the bacteria that flourishes in the sebum. The medication causes a change in the form of the sebaceous glands’ edges, in such manner that it allows a better “drainage” that prevents comedos. An improvement of the inflammation can be seen within the inflammation itself, which is the same inflammation that is typical in acne.

Contraceptive pills

The treatment is considered effective, although it isn’t recommended as the first possibility. Contraceptive pills also cause side effects. If the patient is already taking contraceptive pills, two benefits can be combined in the appropriate pill, particularly for the acne treatment. The pills influence is anti-androgenic meaning it inhibitor of the masculine hormones level. Those hormones are related to acne outbursts. The anti-androgenic component (cyproterone acetate) can be given separately, as an addition to the other pills. In cases where it isn’t found, aldospirone aldactone can be used instead and it is a product that can block receptors to the testosterone in the cells. Sometime, in cases of hormonal disturbances, low dosage of steroids is added in order to treat the purpose of suppressing masculine hormones secretion from the adrenal gland.

In a comprehensive survey of acne products, in which we examined which treatments on the market today answer the following three criteria:

  • Contains the chemical compounds (treatment ingredient) known to medicine today and proven to prevent and cure acne.
  • Contains natural compounds known for their efficacy as natural cures for acne and as compounds that soothe the skin and give it a clean and fresh appearance.
  • Received the highest rating in the user reviews that we gathered.

Let’s summarize the main treatment methods:

The medication activity: Elimination of bacteria that is being reproduced in the pimples (application on the skin).

Medication: Clindamycin , side effects: diarrhea (rare),

Medicaion: Benzoic peroxide.

Side effect: Dries the skin, can cause spots in clothes and hair (note: particularly efficient when combined with erythromycin).

Medication activity: Opens the pores in the skin (application products).

Medication: Tretinoin: (“Retin A”)

Side effect: irritates the skin, causes skin sensitivity to sun light. (Note: acne tends to worsen at the beginning of treatment. It can take 3-4 weeks before any improvements can be seen. It also requires special cautiousness from sun radiation in all parts of the body).

Medication: Tazorotene

side effects: irritates the skin, causes skin sensitivity to sun light. (Note: see the same notes stated in Retin- A)

The medication: Adpalene

Side effects: Causes redness can cause somewhat like “burn”, causes skin sensitivity to sun light. (Notes: effective like tretinoin (retin A): but less irritates the skin, sun protection is required during treatment).

Medication: Azelaic acid.

Side effects: can bleach the skin (Note: irritation caused by it is minimal, can be used separately or with retin- A. Cautious use with dark skin patients due to its bleaching effect).

The medication activity: Eliminating reproduction of bacteria in pimples (antibiotic products to be taken orally).

Medication: Doxylin

Side effects: Causes sensitivity to sun light, need to protect the skin from sun radiation.

Medication: Erythromycin.

Side effects: Disturbances in liver functions, development of resistance to this particular antibiotic by the bacteria is common.

The medication activity: Open of the pores (taken orally)

Medication: Roaccutane (Isotretinoin).

Side effects: can harm the fetus development if taken through pregnancy. Influenced the red blood cells, the liver and fat levels: dries eyes and lips, and as a rule – mucosa tissue. Can cause stiffness and joints aches, lower back aches (in high dosage), can cause depression and also is associated in researches with suicidal thoughts.

In most cases of mild to severe acne, it is recommended to use a gentle cleanser and similar products that cause peeling of the skin and effective disinfection of the anti-bacterial substance (for example: benzoic peroxide). Cystic acne, like the one described in the next case, will react better to hormonal treatment than to retinoid. The way for effective treatment involves sometime trial and error process. There are differences between patients and forms of acne. The next question was referred to us by a patient suffering from severe cyst acne.

In a comprehensive survey of acne products, in which we examined which treatments on the market today answer the following three criteria:

  • Contains the chemical compounds (treatment ingredient) known to medicine today and proven to prevent and cure acne.
  • Contains natural compounds known for their efficacy as natural cures for acne and as compounds that soothe the skin and give it a clean and fresh appearance.
  • Received the highest rating in the user reviews that we gathered.



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