We use website cookies to ensure that you receive the best experience. If you're happy and would like to carry on browsing click 'Accept', or find out more about our Cookie Policy. Accept

Prescription Acne Treatments - How To Get Rid Of Acne

Rated Excellent based on over 16,000 reviews from Google, Trustpilot & Reviews.io

Unsure about a treatment?
Ask our medical team for impartial information and advice about any treatment we provide or medical condition that we treat before you buy.

*Prescription medicines are supplied subject to a medical consultation at the discretion of a doctor.

  • What is Acne and what causes it?

    Acne is caused by the production of excess sebum - the greasy substance that moisturises the hair follicle and the skin. Dead skin cells can mix with excess sebum and block the pores causing spots. The normal bacteria that live on the surface of your skin can multiply inside the blocked pores leading to pus filled papules.

    Acne mainly affects the face, but can also affect the neck, back and chest. It is very common amongst teenagers and usually resolves by itself over a few years, however it can persist on into later life in a small minority of people. As acne is visible to others, it can be very distressing and have a negative impact on you quality of life.

  • What are the best ways to treat Acne?

    Acne can be separated into 4 categories, minimal, mild, moderate & severe acne. The treatment that is most appropriate for your acne will vary dependent on the severity of the acne. 

    Minimal & Mild Acne

    Minimal acne is mainly greasy skin with a few black or white heads on the forehead, nose and/or chin. There may also be the occasional papule.

    Treatment should be started with benzoyl peroxide, which can be bought over the counter. Panoxyl, Quinoderm or Acnecide all can be to prevent acne. They need to be used for a minimum of 6-8 weeks and for the full effect it can take 4-6 months of use.

    If benzoyl peroxide has no effect after 6-8 weeks, or if you have many blackheads or whiteheads but they are not red and inflamed then trying a prescription strength retinoid would be useful. Differin or Isotrex would be appropriate to start with.

    An antibiotic preparation is recommended if you have angry red spots or papules rather than just whiteheads and blackheads. Antibiotics for acne can be topical (applied to the skin), for example  or Dalacin T, or oral (taken by mouth), for example Tetralysal (lymecycline).

    Other effective options are combination products, which contain benzoyl peroxide and either an antibiotic or a retinoid, such as Duac gel (benzoyl peroxide 5% and clindamycin 1%) or Epiduo (benzoyl peroxide 2.5% and adapalene 0.1%).

    Moderate Acne

    When you have more than 30 spots, a oral antibiotic acne treatment is required. Antibiotics like lymecycline, erythromycin or minocycline should be considered for the greatest effect.

    Severe Acne

    If you have more than 125 spots, cysts or any scarring then it is recommended you see a doctor in a face-to-face consultation. They may refer you to a specialist for further treatment.

  • What can make Acne worse?

    • Squeezing and picking at the spots
    • Not washing immediately after exercise
    • Over washing the skin and stripping it of protective natural oils
    • Chemicals, grease and damp in your working environment
    • Having menstrual periods
    • Reactions to medicines
    • Wearing too much make-up
  • I am using a topical Acne application but it doesn’t seem to stop new spots from appearing. Why is it not working?

    Firstly, you should ensure that you treat the whole area where the acne occurs, not just the spots themselves. Secondly, it can take approximately 4 months for acne treatments to be fully effective so you may not see see immediate improvement in your condition, especially within the first 4 weeks.

    Topical treatment is preventative in that it helps to stop lesions developing rather than getting rid of the spots you already have. You should treat the whole acne prone area, not just individual spots to get the most out of your treatment.

  • What else can I do other than use medicines to improve my Acne?

    By washing twice daily with a mild cleanser – but do NOT use an exfoliator as this may irritate the skin further. Keep hair clean and off your face and do not pick at the pimples. Avoid extreme cold and heat. Do not use lots of make-up especially oily foundations which may worsen the pimples. As with everything a healthy lifestyle is important; make sure that you eat well and drink plenty of water.

  • How can I prevent my Acne from scarring?

    Popping, picking or squeezing spots can cause scarring. Prevention is better than cure so treat spots early. You can use Bio Oil, Kelo-Cote or Cica-Care on scars to help them fade and lessen their appearance. Some markings will also fade with time.

  • Can Acne scars ever be removed?

    Unfortunately, scars or marks can sometimes be caused by acne, especially if spots or pimples are picked or squeezed. The scars sometimes caused by acne can be removed by dermabrasion or laser treatment, which are treatments that are carried out by a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. For less serious scars and marks caused by acne you may wish to try Bio-Oil, it has been shown to be highly effective in improving the appearance of scars and marks.

  • I wash my face religiously but my Acne is not getting any better. Why?

    Acne isn't caused by dirt, and excessive washing will strip natural oils from your skin.  This causes your skin to dry out as the natural oils help to protect your skin from moisture loss. As a result your skin will overcompensate and produce more oil, eventually leading to clogged pores and acne. Excessive washing may also irritate you skin.

    You should wash your face once daily using a mild soap or cleanser with warm, not hot, water.

  • I have just been on holiday and my Acne got better. Shall I start using a sunbed to improve my Acne?

    Acne is caused blocked pores becoming aggravated by bacteria found naturally on the surface of the skin. In warmer climates where sunlight is stronger, the light can kill off the bacteria and improve your complexion.

    UV light was used to treat acne but this practice has reduced due the worries over skin cancer. It would therefore not be advisable to use sunbeds as a method to treat acne.

    Some acne preparations, like Differin and Epiduo, make your skin more sensitive to light. During treatment, exposure to strong sunlight should be avoided to prevent burning and skin damage.

  • I have been told to stop smoking. Will this help my Acne?

    Stopping smoking has many health benefits. As well as improving our breathing, lowering your heart risk and improve your senses of taste and smell, it will also help to improve your complexion because nicotine promotes the production of white and blackheads.

  • Is it safe to purchase acne antibiotics & creams online?

    Yes, as long as you are buying from a website that is a legally operating and regulated pharmacy it is perfectly safe to buy acne antibiotics or creams online. The Independent Pharmacy is an NHS Online Pharmacy based in Bristol and has all the necessary regulation to be able to safely provide convenient access to genuine prescription acne treatments through our Online Pharmacy.

  • Should I squeeze my spots?

    You should not squeeze spots as this can cause scarring and will not guarantee that your acne will clear up any faster. Although it may be tempting, you should not squeeze your spots!

  • Does Acne run in the family?

    Like many medical conditions, acne can run in families. If your parents had acne, it increases the chance that you will.  However, acne also occurs sporadically for no obvious reason, usually around puberty.

  • Can eating certain foods, like chocolate, give you Acne?

    There is still no definite answer for this question. The original studies were done in the 1960's and compared patients to those eating sugar sweets. However, they didn’t compare high GI foods to lower ones. There is a mounting evidence to suggest that a lower GI diet has acne benefits. 

    This is further supported by the reduced occurrence/lack of acne in teenagers in non-developed countries. A low GI and high protein diet has been shown to be beneficial to acne sufferers as they have fewer incidents of outbursts.

  • Can contraceptive pills cause acne?

    There are some links between the hormonal changes caused by contraceptive pills and acne vulgaris. If you feel that your contraceptive is negatively affecting your skin, it may be time to try a different type of pill or undergo treatment to combat moderate to severe acne.
    If you are considering a different pill, then we recommend you speak to your doctor first.

  • What is the best way to remove blackheads?

    It is not advisable to pick at your skin, as it can lead to scarring. However, if you have high numbers of blackheads, you may wish to take action to keep them under control. Blackhead removal treatments vary from simple clay masks to microdermabrasion to remove dead skin cells and improve the surface of the skin. 

  • Can Acne be caught from close contact, kissing or touching?

    You cannot transmit acne from one person to another. Although the redness associated with acne is caused by bacteria, it's naturally present on everyone’s skin.


  • Can Acne persist into adult life?

    Acne is most common in teenagers around the age of puberty, due to hormonal changes. However it can also be caused by the different stages of the menstrual cycle, polycystic ovary syndrome, pregnancy and for some women acne can continue after having a baby. . For this reason, acne is more common in women. Acne can also be a side effect from taking certain medicines like steroids, lithium or Cyclosporin.

    No matter when you get acne, in yours teens through to your 30’s, the treatment regime is exactly the same and it is treated depending on the severity.

Authored By:

A photo of  Scott McDougall

Scott McDougall


Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Scott is one of the two founders of The Independent Pharmacy. He is a registered pharmacist and the registered manager of our service with the CQC.

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Leanne Sinclair

Leanne Sinclair


Reviewed on: 29-05-2019

Next review date: 29-05-2021

Leanne is a clinical pharmacist with years of experience working in pharmacy.

Can't find what you're looking for?

If you can't find what you are you looking for, please contact our support team on 0333 2200 519 for help and advice.

How does it work?

It's easy! Follow our simple process to get the treatment or advice you need in no time.

  • 1 Complete a simple health questionnaire
  • 2 A healthcare professional reviews your answers
  • 3 You receive the right treatment or advice
  • 4 Easily re-order in a few clicks

We are a trusted online pharmacy

We are regulated by a number of organisations in the UK including the MHRA, GPhC & CQC to ensure we offer the highest level of service to every one of our customers.

Rated Excellent based on over 16,000 reviews from Google, Trustpilot & Reviews.io
5 out of 5 stars
Excellent service, thank you! I feel so lucky to have found this pharmacy. I am getting my treatment without needing to go to a GP, as they have their own doctors who assess the symptoms.
5 out of 5 stars
Very safe and very quick delivery Because we are isolating this site has been so important to myself and family. Would highly recommend this site.
5 out of 5 stars
Very impressed Used for the very first time, very impressed with cost, variety of products and prompt delivery - well recommended.
5 out of 5 stars
Helpful and efficient I've used The Independent Pharmacy for over a year; they are professional, helpful and efficient.
5 out of 5 stars
Exactly as described and fast delivery Exactly as described and fast delivery
5 out of 5 stars
A brilliant and reliable company As usual the service is better than the last time, such a brilliant and reliable company who keep you updated throughout. Thank you for such a loyal and quick service.
5 out of 5 stars
Can recommend Found this a very convenient and useful source of comprehensive online medication. Answer a few questions then easy order procedure. Reasonable prices and delivery. Can recommend from personal experience.
5 out of 5 stars
Quick and professional Ordering and payment were professionally and quickly dealt with. Delivery was on time, and with the correct items well packed. Couldn't really ask for any better service than this!
5 out of 5 stars
Excellent service Excellent service, quick and easy to sort out, fast delivery
5 out of 5 stars
You passed with flying colours. I'll definitely recommend you You did absolutely fine! I've never ordered from an online pharmacy before because it's difficult to know which ones are legitimate, but all of your positive reviews made me take the risk, though I only ordered a single product, as a test.

Your basket

Your basket is empty

Start shopping

Did you know you can search from anywhere on the site? Simply press 's' on your keyboard and our quick search tool will appear.

Alternatively you can view a list of all of our treatments and treated conditions.

If you can't find what you are looking for, please contact our support team on 0333 2200 519.