What You Can Do when Over-the-Counter Topicals Haven't Combated Your Acne

Man looking at acne in mirror What You Can Do when Over-the-Counter Topicals Haven't Combated Your Acne

Treating acne can be a tricky process. While many over-the-counter products work for most people, there are some instances where that's not enough. If you're struggling to see results with over-the-counter acne treatment, here are a few different avenues you can explore.

More Ways to Combat Acne

Light Therapy

Light therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of skin conditions. You might not think it, but acne is actually one of them. There are two specific types of light that can be used to treat acne: red LED light and blue LED light. These two different types of LED light are excellent at killing a certain type of bacteria -- P. acnes -- that is notorious for contributing to acne flare ups in patients. If you're looking for a cosmetic dermatology treatment to help with your acne, this could be it. That said, it's important to note that light therapy is most effective when used in tandem with another form of acne treatment. If over-the-counter medications aren't working, your dermatologist may prescribe a topical acne treatment to use while you're undergoing light therapy treatment sessions.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are one of the most effective all-around treatments if you want smoother, brighter skin. Not only can they help treat wrinkles and fine lines, but they're also a great option for helping to reduce the appearance of dark acne scars. In addition, they can be used to treat mild acne if over-the-counter treatment methods simply aren't working. Chemical peels can be administered in different intensities, which means your peel will be customized to your skin's needs. Where acne is concerned, chemical peels are most effective on two specific types of acne: blackheads and papules. Since these types of acne live so close to the skin's surface and the role of a chemical peel is to gently remove the outermost layers of skin, it's typically pretty effective as a treatment option when over-the-counter methods aren't providing any results.

Acne Extractions

Extractions are one of the most common forms of cosmetic dermatology treatment for stubborn acne. This method of acne treatment, though it may seem just like popping a pimple at home, is sterile, safe, and performed by your dermatologist or esthetician. The purpose of this treatment is to help unclog your pores and remove blackheads and whiteheads from your skin. In certain cases, your dermatologist may also perform a cyst excision if you're dealing with cystic acne. This type of acne treatment is still considered an outpatient procedure, though a local anesthetic may be required for a cyst excision. If your over-the-counter acne medication isn't working but your acne isn't severe, extractions may be a good option to discuss with your dermatologist. It's important to note that this isn't a one-and-done type of treatment for acne, though. For best results, you'll need to return for regular treatments.


Acne is never fun to deal with, but the right treatment method can make a world of difference. If you're struggling to treat your acne with over-the-counter products, set up a consultation with our team at North Pacific Dermatology today and we can help!

Request Information

This is not a secure exchange and not to be used for appointment requests. Please contact the office directly. Please refrain from sharing personal health information. If you need assistance with a medical issue or have a medication question, please call us. Inquires will be responded to on the next business day.