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Acne Creams

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There are many different types of acne creams. Some are medicated, others are not. All creams for acne have different effects on your skin health.

There are many different ways to treat acne.

One of the most common forms of acne treatments includes acne creams. Many dermatologists have observed that because acne is caused by bacteria and oils on the surface of the skin, the easiest way to control acne is using some type of acne cream or gel on the face.

This allows the cream itself to directly penetrate pores and reduce bacteria in order to control acne.

There are many different types of creams available, some of which work better than others. Below, we'll examine some of the most common types of acne creams, as well as what the research says on their effectiveness.

Types of Creams for Acne

Acne Creams with Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most well-known and often used acne creams currently available.

Benzoyl peroxide is arguably one of the most effective acne treatments on the market, with three different functions that allow it to improve acne. First, it reduces skin bacteria – the most important part of controlling acne. Second, it injects air into pores to clear them out so that they do not fill up with bacteria and fluid. Third, it reduces inflammation. Inflammation is what causes acne to become red, puffed up, and visible.

Most acne creams with benzoyl peroxide use either 5% or 10% of the solution, since any more can hurt your skin. Some believe that benzoyl peroxide creams for acne are less effective than other solutions (like gels or washes) but it's not clear if this is the case.

Despite the value of benzoyl peroxide in general, this type of cream for acne does come with some downsides. These include:

Benzoyl Peroxide Cream Problems

Benzoyl peroxide can be a severe skin irritant. Skin drying and irritation (including visible redness) is a common side effect of benzoyl peroxide, which is why most dermatologist start patients at a 2.5% solution and gradually move them up to 10% as needed. The higher the benzoyl peroxide content, the more likely there will be side effects, yet the lower the content the less likely it will be effective.

Benzoyl peroxide is also prone to more severe allergic reactions. These often appear as more serious forms of the common side effects, with severe redness and skin peeling, itching, swelling, and rash. These types of side effects nearly always prevent you from continuing the treatment.

Benzoyl peroxide is a chemical, and there is some evidence that prolonged exposure to benzoyl peroxide may be bad for your skin long term. Early animal studies found that those using benzoyl peroxide were at a slightly greater risk for skin tumors, however it's unclear what affect this has on human beings. 

Overall, benzoyl peroxide is considered safe to use, but many people find the excessive drying and burning to be a problem, and seek out other types of creams for acne.

Acne Creams with Retinol

Another style of acne cream is retinol. Acne creams with retinol are intriguing, because they arguably provide a unique method of improving skin health.

Retinol is the term for vitamin A – a vitamin that plays a considerable role in improving vision., and appears to play a role in controlling acne.

A great deal of research has shown that vitamin A levels tend to be very low in those with severe acne, so vitamin A is a common part of many natural acne treatments. It's a vitamin that plays a significant role in controlling healthier skin growth, and ultimately reduces the threat of acne. 

Creams for acne tend to include retinol because retinol is easily absorbed into the skin, and presumably goes directly to acne to improve overall Vitamin A levels.

It's not entirely clear if this is the case. Most likely the vitamin enters the blood stream and acne creams with retinol are simply raising the body's vitamin A levels, rather than attacking acne directly. However, evidence does support that some degree of retinol supplementation can be valuable for acne.

It should be noted that retinol acne creams are not without their side effects. Adverse skin reactions – just as those seen with benzoyl peroxide – are possible. Some research also supports the idea that retinol creams can lead to photosensitivity, and there are some that believe it may increase skin wrinkling (although evidence for this is much less clear).

Some retinol creams may be formulated with other ingredients that may also cause their own skin reactions.

Acne Creams with Tea Tree Oil

Most people prefer to use a cream for acne that isn't made in a lab, presumably because natural ingredients tend to be more accepted by the body, or because they want an alternative to benzoyl peroxide.

One such alternative is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil can best be described as the natural version of benzoyl peroxide. Studies have shown that acne creams with tea tree oil have essentially the same benefits as benzoyl peroxide, except the results occur more slowly. Side effects tend to be less severe, but tea tree oil is also slightly less effective, so there is a tradeoff.

Tea tree oil should never be ingested, as it may be toxic to the body. But on the skin, it looks to have positive benefits. Also, home remedies with tea tree oil need to be formulated carefully, because high doses of the oil in homemade acne creams may cause more severe skin reactions.

Still, for those looking for a benzoyl peroxide alternative, tea tree oil may work.

Acne Creams with Grape Seed Extract

Another widely used natural option grape seed extract. Like tea tree oil, grape seed oil tends to be added to a variety of natural acne creams, because there has been some evidence that the extract can improve skin health.

Grape seed oil may cause similar side effects to tea tree oil, but in small doses the side effect risk is much less severe.

However, research doesn't necessarily support the idea that grape seed extract improves acne. Rather, it appears that the oil of the grape seed has benefits for wound healing as a result of the linoleic acid. Based on this research, it is most likely that acne creams with grape seed are beneficial for reducing acne scars – something that will reduce the appearance of acne, but not necessarily the acne itself.

Acne Creams with Antibiotics

Some acne creams are made with prescription grade antibiotics – the same types of antibiotics often prescribed orally for acne.

Acne creams with antibiotics generally have fewer side effects than when the creams are taken orally, because there is less ingestion in the body and the creams are not necessarily being used to kill all acne.

The most common acne creams contain clindamycin and erythromycin.

Both of these can cause some degree of skin irritation. Also, because of the way skin can adapt to antibiotics, they may not be effective for everyone or for all types of acne. Nevertheless, these types of acne creams are commonly prescribed both with and without benzoyl peroxide creams to provide an effective acne treatment.

Using a Cream for Acne

For some people, something as simple as a cream for acne is enough to essentially cure all of their acne.

Others may find that a cream is best as a combination therapy with something taken orally, or another type of topical treatment.

It's best to talk to your dermatologist before trying any type of acne cream, especially if that cream involves some type of medicine or chemical.

Also, if you do decide to try a cream for acne, make sure that you give it ample time to work. Despite what others may claim, acne is not the type of disorder that can be completely cured in a few days. It often takes as long as 3 months for even the most effective acne treatment to work. Unless you're suffering from some type of skin reaction, it's important to give any treatment you try a chance for at minimum 3 months to see if it has any benefits.





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