Acne Topicals Information For Patients

Helpful hints for avoiding common side effects, and getting the most from your medications:

  • Benzoyl peroxide containing medications may stain/ bleach clothing, sheets, towels, and hair.
  • When applying topical medications to the face, use the “4-dot” method: take a small pea-sized amount (total) of the cream/gel on your finger tip and place dots of the medication in each of these 4 locations of your face: mid-forehead, each cheek, and chin. With fingertips smooth/spread the dots of medication into a thin layer over you whole face. You do not need more than one small peasized amount of cream/gel for the whole face.
  • Avoid eye area when applying topical acne medications to the face. The delicate skin around the eyes can be easily irritated by acne medications.
  • Topical medications may lead to dryness where you use them. This almost always improves as your skin gets used to the medication (about 2-3 weeks). To help improve dryness as you skin adjusts to the medication:
    • Wait 15-20 minutes after washing before applying the topical medication.
    • Cut back use of medication to every 2-3 days, for 2-3 weeks. Then gradually work up to everyday use.
    • Moisturize as needed. You can apply an oil free moisturizer over the medication OR if you are very dry, you can mix moisturizer with the medication 50:50 before applying.
    • If you are too dry, take a few days off and start fewer times per week using the advice above.
  • Prescription topical acne medications are typically not meant to be used as a “spot treatment”. Unless advised otherwise by your provider, apply topical medications to the whole face. Acne medication do a better job of preventing future acne than clearing existing acne.

For More Information, Contact DermWellesley

If you have any questions about topical treatments including medications that utilize benzoyl peroxide, our team of dermatologists would be happy to help you. Simply use our contact form to message our office or give us a call during our business hours. 

Scroll to Top