Acne is a common skin condition characterised by spots, pustules or cysts that form on the skin. The spots usually develop on the face, back and chest and can be inflamed and painful.

  1. Causes spots to form on the skin
  2. Burst spots can lead to scarring
  3. Various treatments are available to ease symptoms

If you are experiencing persistent acne, your doctor may be able to help you get the treatment you need.

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0 treatment(s) for Acne



  1. Treats cases resistant to antibiotics
  2. Also acts as a contraceptive
  3. Also effective at reducing excess hair growth


  1. Branded tablet from Bayer
  2. Widely-applied for cases of acne
  3. Works as a contraceptive too


  1. Effective acne treatment
  2. Unblocks pores and sebaceous glands
  3. Easy-to-apply topical gel
Duac Once Daily (Gel)

Duac Once Daily (Gel)

  1. Applied once-a-day
  2. Reliable branded treatment
  3. Not available from our pharmacy


  1. Easily applied topical gel
  2. Helps unblock pores and prevent spots
  3. Manufactured by Stiefel


  1. Clears up infected acne
  2. Adept at tackling other infections too
  3. Not available from our pharmacy


  1. Easy to apply cream
  2. Used twice a day to treat acne
  3. Not provided through our clinic


  1. One a day dose
  2. Fights acne symptoms
  3. Not available through our service


Acne is the formation of spots or pus-filled cysts on the skin. The condition can range in severity, from small blackheads and whiteheads to deep and sometimes painful pustules.

Almost everyone will experience a level of acne at some point in their lives. It is most commonly diagnosed amongst younger men and women, with the focus being on those aged between 12 and 25 years. The condition peaks around the ages of 17-19 years and the majority will see improvement as they get older. However, there are people who will live with the condition into and beyond adulthood.

Acne occurs when the skin’s sebaceous glands produce too much sebum. This can happen due to a change in hormone levels often noticed during puberty. For females the hormonal imbalance can also occur when they are expecting their period, or during pregnancy. Sebum is an oily substance used to moisturise the skin and hair, keeping it healthy and lubricated. However, excess sebum can mix with dead skin cells and clog up hair follicles, causing spots. Bacteria that usually lives unnoticed on the surface of the skin can also cause problems, as it feeds on the sebum. It creates fatty acids and waste products that irritate the sebaceous glands, making them appear inflamed and sometimes causing infections.

Acne spots can range from whiteheads and blackheads to large and painful infected cysts. The skin can be damaged if spots are squeezed or burst, the disruption can lead to permanent scarring. Living with acne can have a negative impact on the person’s general well being, as it can make them unhappy and distressed.

Maintaining clean skin is important for those with this skin condition. However, too much cleaning can also be detrimental. For some people cleansing twice daily can improve symptoms but for more stubborn cases there are treatments available. Medications will not cure acne symptoms but they can get them under control and help prevent scarring.

Treatment for acne comes in a variety of forms.

Antibiotic treatments are used in some cases. (These medicines are not currently available from our pharmacy.)

Differin and Isotrex are topically administered products used to treat acne.

Oral hormone pills that regulate the release of androgens and help to reduce acne, such as Dianette and Co-Cyprindiol, can only be taken by women. These work as contraceptives in the body too, which means you’ll take them in place of any other type of hormonal birth control.

If you are experiencing acne which won’t respond to over-the-counter products, talk to your GP. They may be able to suggest a course of treatment to help you.

Page last reviewed:  13/12/2017
Types of Treatment

Types of Treatment

Acne can present itself in varying degrees of severity. It can range from mild blackheads and whiteheads, to large areas covered in painful, pus-filled spots which are persistent and can lead to scarring.

For some, acne can be reduced by keeping the skin clean. This may involve a twice daily cleansing schedule using a mild soap. Not everyone with the condition will require medicated treatment, as quite often the symptoms decrease with age. The condition tends to peak around the ages of 17-19 years. However, for more severe or stubborn cases there are various medications available to reduce symptoms.

Treatment may be issued in a variety of forms, depending on the specific cause of the acne. These include:

  • oral or topical antibiotics (please note that we do not currently provide antibiotics through our online service); 
  • topical retinoids including Isotrex and Differin 
  • and oral hormone pills for example Dianette and Co-Cyprindiol.

How do they work?

Differin and Isotrex are topical retinoid gels. These work by targeting and killing off the bacteria that aggravate the skin’s sebaceous cells and cause acne spots.

Co-Cyprindiol and Dianette are hormonal medications which reduce the amount of androgens being released by the body. This allows the sebaceous glands to better regulate the amount of sebum being produced and reduce acne symptoms.

What are the side effects?

Each medication comes with the possibility of unwanted side effects. As a general rule you should be aware that the topical medications may cause a localised itching or burning sensation. Whereas the oral tablets may cause headaches or nausea. More information on the specific side effects for each product can be found on their respective pages.

Can I take them with other medications?

Acne products can interact with other treatments. It is important to disclose what medications you are currently taking or have recently taken during your consultation. Further details for each item can be found on the individual product page.

Page last reviewed:  13/12/2017
Question and Answers

What’s the difference between the medications?

Differin and Isotrex are topical gels.

Co-Cyprindiol and Dianette are hormonal pills, which can only be used by women. They also act as contraceptives, which means they’ll need to be taken instead of any other form of hormonal birth control.

Should I take Differin, Isotrex, Dianette or Co-Cyprindiol?

Check with your doctor if you have not taken treatment before. This will usually depend on the treatments, if any, you have already tried, the suitability of each medication, and your clinical history. For example if you find it difficult to swallow medication then it is advisable to avoid the tablets.

If you are a woman and have previously used a non-hormonal treatment, and it has not improved your symptoms, then you may be advised to try a different type of medicine such as the pill. Please bear in mind that Dianette and Co-Cyprindiol cannot be used by males.

Are there different side effects?

Yes, although not everyone will experience them. The gels that are applied directly to the skin can on occasion cause a burning, itching or tingling sensation. The oral products may make the user feel sick, have a headache or diarrhoea. This list is not exhaustive so full attention should be paid to the patient information leaflet, where more details can be found.

Is it right for me?

Check with your doctor if you have developed new acne symptoms or have never taken acne treatment before. They will be able to discuss acne treatments with you and help you find the most appropriate form of medication.

Page last reviewed:  13/12/2017
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