In an adolescent’s zeal to punish pimples, there is a tendency to select the most harsh, abrasive skin cleansers available. If sandpaper could be made to produce suds, some young people (and adults) would use it.

Craig Burkhart, MD, of the Department of Dermatology at Ohio University School of Medicine has a better approach.

It’s based on an understanding of the desired outcome. Cleansing is important “because it not only removes unwanted dirt, soil, and bacteria from skin, but also removes dead surface cells.” The objective of skin cleaning is simply to prepare the surface for the next step — better absorption of topically applied medications.

Treating acne effectively requires a long-term approach. Choose a cleanser you can live with. Let the medication applied following skin cleaning do the “heavy lifting” of controlling acne.

7/21/06 11:24 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.