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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

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Medications for Skin Conditions

Medications used to treat skin conditions include topical and oral drugs.

Some common topical treatments for skin conditions include: 

  • Antibacterials; These medicines, including mupirocin or clindamycin, are often used to treat or prevent infection.
  • Anthralin (Drithocreme, Micanol, and others): These drugs, though not often used, help to reduce inflammation and can help treat psoriasis.
  • Antifungal agents: Terbinafine, clotrimazole, and ketoconazole are a few examples of common topical antifungal drugs used to treat skin conditions such as ringworm and athlete's foot.
  • Benzoyl peroxide: Creams and other products containing benzoyl peroxide are used to treat acne.
  • Coal tar: This topical treatment is available with and without a prescription, with strengths ranging from 0.5% to 5%. Coal tar is used to treat conditions including seborrheic dermatitis (usually in shampoos) or psoriasis. Currently, coal tar is seldom used because it can be slow acting and can cause severe staining of personal clothing and bedding.
  • Corticosteroids: These are used to treat skin conditions including eczema. Corticosteroids come in many different forms including foams, lotions, ointments, and creams.
  • Retinoids: These medications (such as Retin-A and Tazorac) are gels or creams derived from vitamin A and are used to treat conditions including acne.
  • Salicylic acid: This drug is sold in lotions, gels, soaps, shampoos, and patches. Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in many skin care products for the treatment of acne and warts

Some common oral treatments for skin conditions include: 

  • Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics are used to treat many skin conditions. Common antibiotics include erythromycin, tetracycline, and dicloxacillin.
  • Antifungal agents: Common oral antifungal drugs include ketoconazole and fluconazole. These drugs can be used to treat more severe fungal infections.
  • Antiviral agents: Common antiviral agents include valacyclovir, acyclovir, and famciclovir. Antiviral treatments are used for skin conditions including those related to herpes.
  • Corticosteroids: These medications, including prednisone, can be helpful in treating skin conditions linked to autoimmune diseases including vasculitis and inflammatory diseases such as eczema. Dermatologists prefer topical steroids to avoid side effects; however, short-term use of prednisone is sometimes necessary.
  • Immunosuppressants: Immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine and methotrexate, can be used to treat conditions including severe cases of psoriasis and eczema.
  • Biologics: These new therapies are the latest methods being utilized to treat psoriasis and other conditions. Examples of biologics include Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, and Stelara.

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Norman Levine, MD on July 12, 2012

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