acne treatmentsAt Complexions Dermatology, we know that trying to find the right acne treatments can feel overwhelming, especially for teenagers. Whether you’re experiencing acne for the first time or are searching for new remedies, below are the most common acne treatments for adolescents. These prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) treatments can reduce scarring and stop acne in its tracks.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid treats acne by clearing out troublesome debris inside pores. The benefits of salicylic acid were discovered more than 2,000 years ago. Today, it’s found in numerous skincare products, with options ranging from gels to lotions to pads and more.


Dermatologists may prescribe antibiotics to combat acne. Oral medications such as Doxycycline, Minocin and Almirall can treat severe acne caused by bacteria. These medications may be used alone or with topical treatments. According to WebMD, these antibiotics are often prescribed for six months at the most, as the bacteria may become drug resistant. If that happens, it’s possible to switch to a different medication. 

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an effective OTC treatment for teenagers that comes in many forms. It’s a stronger medication used for severe breakouts. This treatment effectively targets certain bacteria that can cause acne. While it’s often used for spot treatments, benzoyl peroxide is also found in lotions and similar formulas to combat widespread acne.


A small amount of Retin-A can prevent acne from developing on the face and other parts of the body. This topical lotion treats inflammatory acne and often requires a prescription. It’s applied sparingly before bed and should be used routinely for the best results. Retin-A comes in various strengths and applications, such as gels and creams.

Differin Adapalene Gel

Applied topically, Differin, sometimes referred to as adapalene, is suitable for sensitive skin. Physician Samer Jaber, founder of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City, explains to NBC News that Differin is the only OTC retinoid treatment available without a prescription. Differin lowers the risk of future breakouts by reducing inflammation and clearing out clogged pores.

Stress and hormones are common causes of acne in teenagers. This can lead to pimples and acne. While acne is curable, it may require more than one treatment. A dermatologist can prescribe the correct medications and suggest OTC options, including these common treatments, to control breakouts for healthier-looking skin.

If your teen is struggling with acne breakouts and needs help, contact Complexions Dermatology to schedule an appointment. Our expert team of physicians are dedicated to helping everyone look and feel their best.