Which medications in the drug class Acne Products are used in the treatment of Acne Vulgaris?

Updated: Mar 26, 2019
  • Author: Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Acne Products

Acne products are used for the treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris. These agents may have antibacterial and comedolytic properties. In severe cases, the agents may be used as an adjunct in therapeutic regimens.

Dapsone topical (Aczone)

Dapsone is a sulfone antibiotic that also has anti-inflammatory properties that are largely thought to contribute to its efficacy for treating mild-to-moderate acne. It is well tolerated, with infrequent and mild adverse events mainly involving local administration site such as dryness, stinging, and erythema. It is available as 5% twice-daily and 7.5% once-daily formulations. The current American Academy of Dermatology guidelines preceded the FDA approval of the 7.5% formulation. Although no research has compared the efficacy of the 5% formulation with the 7.5% formulation, both have been separately shown to be efficacious and safe. The 7.5% formulation has the additional compliance factor of once-daily application.

Erythromycin and benzoyl peroxide (Benzamycin)

This combination agent contains erythromycin, which is a macrolide antibiotic, and benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide, in addition to being an antibacterial agent, is a keratolytic and desquamative agent. With benzoyl peroxide, free-radical oxygen is released upon administration, oxidizing bacterial proteins in sebaceous follicles and decreasing the number of anaerobic, bacterial, and irritating free fatty acids. This combination has keratolytic and comedolytic effects. Erythromycin is indicated for infections caused by susceptible strains of microorganisms. The combination drug may be applied topically twice daily.

Clindamycin and tretinoin (Ziana, Veltin)

This combination agent contains the topical antibiotic clindamycin 1.2% and tretinoin 0.025%. Clindamycin reduces Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) levels and is anti-inflammatory. Tretinoin normalizes differentiation of keratinocytes and is anti-inflammatory. Apply daily to affected areas.

Clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide (Acanya, Duac, BenzaClin)

This combination agent contains the topical antibiotic clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide. Clindamycin reduces C acnes (formerly P acnes) levels and is anti-inflammatory. Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial, comedolytic, and anti-inflammatory agent. Benzoyl peroxide reduces the risk of development of bacterial resistance to clindamycin. Acanya gel contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and Duac CS and BenzaClin contain 5% benzoyl peroxide. Apply Acanya and Duac CS once daily. BenzaClin is applied twice daily.

Azelaic acid (Azelex, Finacea)

Azelaic acid has been shown to help reduce inflammation and may aid in the treatment of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Apply azelaic acid twice daily. Improvement may be seen within 4 weeks.

Benzoyl peroxide (BenzEFoam, PanOxyl, Neutrogena Clear Pore, Benzac AC Wash)

Benzoyl peroxide is an oxidizing agent that possesses antibacterial properties and is comedolytic. The antibacterial activity results from the release of active or free-radical oxygen that can oxidize bacterial proteins. Benzoyl peroxide is oxidized into benzoic acid with contact to the skin. It is available over the counter and by prescription.

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