What is prescription skin care?

Prescription skin care can improve the overall look of your skin. Prescription products often contain the same ingredients as over-the-counter products. But dosage strengths are higher in prescription skin care.

Who needs prescription skin care?

Anyone can ask a dermatologist (skin care doctor) about prescription skin care. A dermatologist may recommend prescription skin care when over-the-counter products haven’t helped.

What does prescription skin care treat?

A healthcare provider may prescribe medications to treat certain skin conditions, such as:

  • Acne.
  • Eczema.
  • Melasma.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Rosacea.
  • Some skin cancers, such as actinic keratosis or basal cell carcinoma.

You can also use prescription skin care to:

  • Brighten the appearance of your skin.
  • Reduce acne scars.
  • Remove unwanted facial hair.
  • Restore hair growth on your scalp.
  • Smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Slow down signs of aging

What are the types of prescription skin care?

Your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicated cream called imiquimod to treat early skin cancer. Corticosteroid creams can treat eczema or psoriasis.

Some prescription products have ingredients that brighten skin and reduce acne. Your healthcare provider may prescribe:

  • Beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic acid).
  • Hydroquinone.
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane®).
  • Tretinoin (Retin-A® and Renova®).

If you need products that affect hair growth, your healthcare provider may prescribe:

  • Eflornithine cream (Vaniqa®), which slows the growth of facial hair.
  • Finasteride (Propecia®) to treat male-pattern hair loss.


How do you use prescription skin care?

Many prescription skin care products are creams or gels that you apply directly to your skin. Usually, you use these creams a few times a week. Other medications are pills that you swallow one or more times a day.