Guide To Acne Treatments Prescribed By Dermatologists In Singapore

Siena Team
27 Jun 2023

While there are tons of home remedies or over-the-counter (drug store) acne products out there that promise help, not all of them are backed by research and they may not work for stubborn/more severe acne.

In this article, we share the common acne treatments prescribed by dermatologists, their costs and how/where to get them in Singapore.

What Causes Acne? 

Acne vulgaris (medical term for acne) forms when a combination of sebum and dead skin cells build up in your pores and hair follicles, creating a blockage.

Your sebaceous glands create sebum to lubricate your skin and hair. Under normal circumstances, this is a good thing because this sebum also forms a barrier on your skin, protecting it from things like bacteria and other harmful environmental factors.

However, certain things can cause your body to kick its sebum production into high gear, which can lead to blocked pores, pimples, blemishes, and acne. 

Why Use Prescription Acne Medication?

While over-the-counter acne medications are effective at managing minor outbreaks of facial acne, many people experience persistent/more severe acne that just doesn’t go away with regular, store-bought treatments.

Prescription Strength Acne MedicationPrescription Strength Acne Medication
PotencyLow concentrationMore powerful with higher concentrations of active ingredients
AvailabilityCan be bought off the shelfAvailable by prescription only, after a doctor’s evaluation
UsageFor general public useIntended to be used by one person (patient himself/herself)
Over-the-counter Acne Products vs Prescription Strength Acne Medication

Common Acne Treatments Prescribed By Dermatologists

Acne can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from skin bacteria to excessive levels of sebum production. Because of this, there are several different types of prescription drugs used to treat acne. And for each of those specific drug types, there are specific drugs that fall under them.

Prescription Topical Treatments (Gel/Cream)

Ingredient(s)How it works
AdapaleneAdapalene is a retinoid, a form of vitamin A. It works by exfoliating the skin (removing dead skin cells) to prevent blocked pores and soothes inflammation.

Known brands: Differin
Adapalene + Benzoyl peroxideAdapalene is a type of retinoid. It works by exfoliating the skin (removing dead skin cells) to prevent blocked pores and soothes inflammation. Benzoyl peroxide is an antimicrobial agent that works to soften and peel the skin’s outer layer as well as tackle the microbes which can trigger acne.

Known brands: Epiduo gel 0.1%/2.5% pump
ClindamycinClindamycin is an antibiotic that kills acne-causing bacteria. 

Known brands: Dalacin T gel
Clindamycin + Benzoyl peroxideClindamycin is an antibiotic that kills acne-causing bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide is an antimicrobial agent that works to soften and peel the skin’s outer layer as well as tackle the microbes which can trigger acne.

Known brands: Clindoxyl
Tretinoin Tretinoin is a retinoid, a form of vitamin A. It works by exfoliating the skin (removing dead skin cells) to prevent blocked pores and soothes inflammation. 

The main difference between Tretinoin and Adapalene is that Adapalene is used for acne, while Tretinoin can be used for acne and hyperpigmentation.

Known brands:
Stieva-A 0.025%, Stieva-A 0.05%, Retacnyl 0.025%, Retacnyl 0.025%
Common Topical Acne Medications Prescribed by Derms

Prescription Oral Medications

For mild to moderate acne, topical treatments alone can generally calm a breakout. However, in moderate to severe cases, oral medications may be prescribed to treat stubborn acne. 

Ingredient(s)How it works
DoxycyclineDoxycycline is an antibiotic that suppresses the growth of acne bacteria and decreases inflammation.

Known brands: Medomycin
Combination birth control pillsWomen with hormonal acne may be treated with combination birth control pills. These medications regulate hormones that can cause acne through a decrease in oil production.

Known brands: Yaz, Drospera (Generic Yaz), Yasmin, Liza (Generic Yasmin), Diane-35
SpironolactoneFor women with hormonal acne, Spironolactone slows down the body’s production of androgen hormones, such as testosterone. These hormones can make the skin produce too much oil, which clogs pores and causes acne. 

Known brands: Uractonum
IsotretinoinIsotretinoin is a potent oral medication that reduces the amount of sebum (oil) produced by the glands in the skin and clears inflammation. The use of Isotretinoin requires careful monitoring due to potential side effects.

Known brands: Acnotin, Accutane, Roaccutane, Oratane
Common Oral Acne Medications Prescribed by Derms

Which Acne Medication is Best For You?

The best acne medication for an individual can vary depending on various factors, including the type and severity of acne, skin type, medical history, and individual response to different treatments.

Because of this, there’s no “best” acne medication for everyone. The best approach is to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional who can evaluate your specific situation and provide tailored treatment options to help you manage your acne effectively.

Your provider may prescribe topical medication(s), oral medication(s) or a combination of both to address different aspects of acne formation, such as bacteria, inflammation, and excessive oil production.

Cost Of Acne Medications In Singapore

For most cases of mild to moderate acne conditions, the costs are relatively cheaper. Treating cystic acne may take a longer time as the chances of recurrence are higher.

At Siena, we offer a customised acne treatment plan based on your needs and budget:

  • Tele-consultation: $20
  • Topical medication: from $38
  • Oral antibiotics: from $24/month
  • Oral hormonal medication: from $12/month
  • Oral retinoids: from $68.50/month
  • Delivery: $0

Depending on the severity of the acne condition, the price will vary.

How To Get Prescribed Acne Medication

Traditionally for prescription products, you’d have to visit a medical provider in person to get a prescription. 

But now, thanks to the internet and technology, you can access prescription acne medication via virtual medical visits at Siena, a MOH-approved telemedicine provider

Telemedicine For Acne In Singapore

Whether you are struggling with hormonal acne, adult acne, cystic acne, persistent acne etc, simply answer an online medication evaluation to book a tele-consultation session ($20) with a licensed doctor at your convenience. If prescribed, your medication will be delivered discreetly, at no additional cost.


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