Read through Over-The-Counter Acne Treatments: Pros and Cons extra

Are you annoyed and embarrassed by the pimples on your cheeks? Are you overly conscious of that red bump on your nose? Well, you may think you need professional treatment, but for most people the usual blemish and pimple can be treated at home through the use of over-the-counter (OTC) acne treatments. There's a wide variety of choices to consider, including cleansers, toners, astringents, moisturizers, lotions, pads and wipes, masks and strips. However, as you'll see later, there are some risks associated with these treatments.

The main active ingredients found in many of the OTC treatments include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and sulfur. They can be effective when used for mild and moderate acne problems. All three have both antibacterial and keratolytic effects. A keratolytic agent causes the outer layer of your skin to thin and shed away. This action opens up your pores and allows blocked material such as accumulated oil, dead skin cells and bacteria to be released.

Salicylic Acid: This compound was originally derived from willow bark, and has been used for centuries to alleviate pain and reduce fever. It is chemically similar to but not identical to acetylsalicylic acid, which is the active component of aspirin. In addition to its keratolytic effects, salicylic acid also acts as a bacteriocide by neutralizing bacteria inside the pores.

Benzoyl Peroxide: This organic compound works as both a keratolytic agent and as an oxidizer. Studies show that 70% of those who have used products with benzoyl peroxide experienced clearing of their acne within just six weeks.

Sulfur: Even before the modern era of scientific medicine, elemental sulfur was used in creams to help alleviate various conditions such as ringworm, scabies, eczema, psoriasis and acne. The way it actually works is not fully understood, but it is known that elemental sulfur slowly oxidizes into sulfurous acid, which has a mild antibacterial effect. Just like the other ingredients mentioned above, it also has a keratolytic effect.

What Are The Cons?

When used at a concentration of greater than 2 percent, salicylic acid may cause your skin to peel, become overly dry, and become irritated. It may also produce other undesirable effects such as salicylate toxicity, toxic inner ear damage and hypersensitivity. It can also produce photosensitization or the increased skin sensitivity to sunlight. Most of all, it increases the changes in skin structure and allows other chemicals to go deeper into the skin.

Sulfur may cause staining and has a very unpleasant smell and may cause dryness. It is not recommended as part of any product that a pregnant woman may use.

Benzoyl peroxide is a very harsh chemical which may irritate the skin and cause redness, dryness, scaling and blemishes. Those allergic to it suffer blistering, burning and swelling. Moreover, it may also cause the bleaching of hair or fabrics because of its oxidization properties.

Pimples Inside Nose
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Over-The-Counter Acne Treatments: Pros and Cons