Spot treatments for acne are intended for periodic use on individual blemishes when they appear on the face. These products are generally not well suited for broad application over a large area as they can cause excessive peeling, scaling and redness in some individuals. If you have many pimples, a spot treatment, used alone, might not be well-suited to your needs.

The foundation of an acne management routine for many patients involves the topical application of a product containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, retinoic acid, azelaic acid, clindamycin lotion, or adapalene to the entire face, not just existing blemishes. This approach can prevent the appearance of new breakouts by keeping the pores clear of blockages and by reducing the amount of bacteria that can cause acne.

If you are not already using a topical product that contains one of the ingredients listed above on your entire face, this is a step to consider. You may want to speak with your community pharmacist or physician for advice. Some of the products (retinoic acid, azelaic acid, clindamycin lotion, or adapalene) will require a prescription to obtain.

The most appropriate choice will depend on a number of factors, such as your medical history, medication history (including your previous experience with topical acne treatments), personal preference and acne severity.  That is why it is important to see your pharmacist or physician for a recommendation specific to you.

If you are already using a topical product applied to the entire face according to the package or prescription directions and are experiencing wide spread breakouts, see your pharmacist or physician to re-evaluate treatment as the product does not seem to be achieving ideal results. Once your skin has improved, topical treatments (such as benzoyl peroxide or a topical retinoid) are generally continued to maintain control over the long-term.