Medications for Skin Conditions

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on May 02, 2023

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: This drug, though not often used because it can be irritating and can stain, helps reduce inflammation and can help treat psoriasis.
  • Antifungal agents: Clotrimazole (Lotrimin), ketoconazole (Nizoral), and terbinafine (Lamisil AT), are a few examples of common topical antifungal drugs used to treat skin conditions such as ringworm and athlete's foot.
  • Benzoyl peroxide: Creams, gels, washes, and foams 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.
  • Non-steroidal ointment: The ointments crisaborole (Eucrisa) and tacrolimus (Protopic) and the cream pimecrolimus (Elidel) also are prescribed for eczema, including atopic dermatitis.
  • Retinoids: These medications (such as Aklief, Differin, Retin-A, and Tazorac) are gels, foams, lotions, 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, washes, and patches. Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in many skin care products for the treatment of acne and warts.

Some common oral or injection treatments for skin conditions include:

Show Sources


American Academy of Dermatology.

FDA. “FDA approves Amjevita, a biosimilar to Humira.”


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