Acne Canada - Your Acne Treatment Guide

Acne Treatments in Canada

It can be a challenge to find the most effective acne treatment solutions. However, knowing what to look for in acne skin care products can help you find a solution that works for you.

When it comes to cleansing, the foam ones are good for oily skin and the cream ones are good for dry skin. It's especially important for dry skin types to avoid toners with alcohol because it can exacerbate a dry, scaly surface. Use sunscreen throughout the year and apply it after acne medication has absorbed.

Wash your face with a fresh, cotton cloth or soft sponge and rinse with lukewarm water. Don't rub your skin with a towel; instead pat-dry. Make sure your hands are clean when applying a cleanser, toner or leave-on lotion. Avoid the sensitive eye, nose and mouth areas.

Treat yourself to a great complexion. There are a number of active and natural ingredients that will promote smooth, balanced skin, regardless of your skin type or skin disorder.

Over-the-Counter Acne Medications in Canada

Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a mild beta hydroxy acid that clears skin and prevents future breakouts. Derived from the bark of the willow tree, salicylic acid digs through oil-filled pores, exfoliates dead skin cells and reduces red, irritated skin. It is a great alternative for sensitive skin types and is also used to treat psoriasis, eczema and dandruff.

Glycolic acid
Glycolic acid is an exfoliator that clears skin, however, it doesn't unclog pores as well as salicylic acid. Dermatologists use both glycolic acid and salicylic acid in chemical peels that exfoliate dead skin cells and encourage new skin growth.

Benzoyl peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is an alpha hydroxy acid that helps to unclog pores, and reduce oil and bacteria. It is available with or without a prescription, depending on its strength. It's best to start with the lowest percentage and do a skin patch test since it can be harsh on dry or sensitive skin. Be careful with your favourite clothes, as benzoyl peroxide can bleach fabrics.

Sulfur stops blemishes in their tracks and keeps skin blemish-free. It reduces bacteria and inflammation around the pores.

Prescription Medications in Canada

Retinoids are a topical treatment and derivative of vitamin A that reduce oil and inflammation by unclogging pores. There is also evidence that supports long-term use of retinoids to reduce wrinkles, freckles and sun damage to the skin. Dermatologists often prescribe retinoids for mild to moderately severe acne. Some side effects may be irritation and sensitivity to the sun so it is important to apply sunblock and avoid overexposure to the sun. Examples are Retin-A and Tazorac.

Isotretinoin, or more specifically Accutane, is a derivative of vitamin A that effectively treats severe nodular and cystic acne. It greatly reduces the production of oil by keeping pores unblocked. Improvements to the skin have been show to last years. Side effects may include extremely dry skin and lips, nosebleeds, and joint and muscle pain.

Topical antibiotics
Topical antibiotics reduce bacteria. They can help to reduce clogged pores and inflammation. Examples are clindamycin and erythromycin.

Oral antibiotics
Oral antibiotics are taken in a pill-form and used to reduce bacteria and inflammation. Minocycline and doxycycline are tetracycline antibiotics that are used to treat acne and rosacea. Some side effects may include increased susceptibility to the sun, yeast infections, joint swelling, headaches, blurred vision, or pigmentation changes in the mouth.

Oral contraceptives
Oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, may control acne in teenage girls and women. This form of acne treatment balances the hormones that shift during the monthly cycle, in particular the male hormones that stimulate oil build-up and breakouts. Some oral contraceptives used to treat blemishes are Yasmin and OrthoTri-Cyclin. In some cases, the visual signs of acne can worsen rather than improve.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal skincare lines boast plant-based medicinal ingredients and natural cosmetic products.

-Green tea is an antioxidant.
-Queen of Meadow reduces oil and tightens pores.
-Witch hazel manages oil and minimizes pores.
-Lavender may be used as a disinfectant and on an open lesion.
-Licorice, arnica, and allantoin help reduce redness and swelling.
-Aloe vera, calendula and menthol cool and calm inflamed skin.
-Tea tree oil is an antiseptic that controls oil and heals lesions without irritation or peeling.

*But to put a stop to acne breakouts, these ingredients must be paired with a powerful, acne medicine like salicylic acid.


-Vitamin C reduces post-acne marks.
-Vitamin C and E provide much needed hydration for sensitive skin types.
-Vitamins A, C, and E boast antioxidants to help regulate the free radicals in the body that damage skin and contribute to premature aging.
-Broccoli is a good source of vitamins A, C and E. Meats, cereals and dark, leafy greens contain vitamin B, which regulates blood circulation and aids in the skin's healing process.
-Peas, blackberries and pumpkin seeds contain zinc, which stimulates collagen production, shields against infection, reduces swelling, and boosts the effects of vitamins A and E.

*Do not exceed the recommended daily dosage of vitamins.

Spa Treatments

Microdermabrasion balances the tone and texture of skin and stimulates collagen and elastin to help reverse the signs of aging. This peeling process involves tiny sodium bicarbonate or aluminum bicarbonate crystals that remove the surface layers of skin. It has been shown to be effective in reducing the appearance of mild to moderate scars, sun damage, stretch marks and age spots. For deep scarring, dermabrasion is recommended. The procedure is expensive and it may require multiple treatment sessions.

Blue Light Therapy
High-intensity blue light therapy is used to treat acne blemishes by killing bacteria and reducing inflammation. This procedure does not use ultraviolet light as does other forms of light therapy. The treatment usually involves short, multiple sessions. Side effects may include mild dryness, irritation and changes in pigmentation. While it is important to not overexpose yourself to the natural sun, it is important to get sufficient sunlight for vitamin D production. Fatigue and irritability may indicate a lack of exposure to sunlight.

Laser Therapy
Laser therapy involves removing one layer at a time of surface skin with a carbon dioxide laser and/or erbium YAG laser. Heat during the procedure stimulates collagen, and tightens and smoothes skin to reduce the appearance of shallow scars. The results are not immediate and may take upwards of a year to notice. Laser skin resurfacing is most effective when in combination with other acne scar treatments, such as surgery.

Don't forget:

Be sure to store acne medication and vitamins in a cool, dry place. Understand the side effects of certain treatments and consult your family physician or dermatologist if you're pregnant or using other medication. It is important to note that not all treatments are recommended for children.

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