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Acne Medications Most Commonly Prescribed by Dermatologists

Acne isn’t pretty. Most teens have a few breakouts here and there, but when your skin is consistently blocked with pus-filled papules, you may have a problem that’s tougher to break. If you’ve tried every over-the-counter cream there is to try and nothing works for you, it may be time to visit a dermatologist. To give you an idea of what dermatologists can do for your skin, here are the most common ways dermatologists treat acne.


There are a number of oral antibiotics that can be used to treat acne. Common prescribed antibiotics include Doxycycline and Erythromycin. Different antibiotics are prescribed to individuals based on allergies and type of acne. Typically, antibiotics work by fighting the infections, so they can help reduce inflammation, oil build-up, and swelling. Antibiotics are not preventative, they are reactive. So they can help calm the acne down during adolescent years. Some patients find that they become resistant to antibiotics with extended use to treat acne.

Topical Creams

There are a number of prescription-strength topical creams that dermatologists can prescribe to you when over-the-counter drugs aren’t working. Sometimes doctors prescribe these creams in combination with other antibiotics. Epiduo and Differin are two commonly sold brand-name topical treatments. These creams help to reduce inflammation and also help to get dirt out of your pores.

Birth Control

Some female dermatology patients find that their hormones affect their acne flare-ups. To help prevent this kind of acne, dermatologists often prescribe different kinds of hormonal birth control to help balance out hormone levels. The types of birth control that are prescribed to help treat acne are Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, and Drospirenone (more commonly known as Yasmin, YAZ, or Gianvi). The first two types are estrogen and progestin combination pills, and Drospirenone is a progestin-only pill.


Accutane, also known as Isotetrinoin, is the most effective and most regulated way to treat acne. When acne doesn’t respond to prescription medications, dermatologists typically prescribe Accutane. Accutane is a form of a Vitamin A. It decreases the oil produced in your oil glands and helps your skin to renew itself quickly. Accutane is highly regulated, because it can cause severe birth defects and also has a number of other potential severe side effects. If you are a woman and you are prescribed Accutane, you are required to use 2 forms of birth control. While the side effects of Accutane can be quite severe, many patients have had life-changing results with Accutane and limited side effects. The major advantage of Accutane is that it not only treats existing acne, but most patients find that their acne is gone forever after 6 months on Accutane. 

Last Updated: February 07, 2017