A plethora of over-the-counter (OTC) modalities exists for treating acne. These modalities include topical cleansers, creams, lotions, gels, and masks as well as mechanical treatments, essential oils, and oral vitamins. The Food and Drug Administration is the regulatory agency that presides over the marketing of non-prescription acne products. Benzoyl peroxide is commonly found in OTC antiacne washes, creams, and lotions. Benzoyl peroxide acts as an anti-inflammatory agent by reducing oxygen free radicals and also by lessening C. acnes density. The hydroxy acids are another common OTC antiacne ingredient found in washes and leave-on products. Lipohydroxy acids, a derivative of salicylic acid, have a similar mechanism of action. Azelaic acid is an aliphatic, dicarboxylic acid used as a topical application in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Retinols are a group of vitamin A derivatives that are available topically OTC in various forms such as retinol, retinyl propionate, and retinyl palmitate.
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