Topical benzoyl peroxide, topical salicyclic acid and retinoids are proven acne treatments, according to Everyday Health. Benzoyl peroxide and topical salicyclic acid are over-the-counter products, while retinoids are only available by prescription.
Benzoyl peroxide treats acne by regulating bacteria on the skin, explains Everyday Health. Possible side effects of this treatment are stinging, dryness, tingling and peeling. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that unclogs pores by lightly peeling the skin. Possible side effects of this treatment include dryness and sensitivity to the sun. Retinoids, a treatment derived from vitamin A, prevent clogged pores. Side effects of this treatment include possible sensitivity to sunlight, dryness, burning and scaling.