Medications for Skin Conditions

Medications used to treat skin conditions include topical and oral drugs.

Some common topical treatments for skin conditions include (see below:

  • Antibacterials: These medicines, including mupirocin or clindamycin, are often used to treat or prevent infection.
  • Anthralin: This drug, though not often used because it can be irritating and can stain, helps reduce inflammation, and can help treat psoriasis.
  • Antifungal agents: Clotrimazole (Lotrimin), ketoconazole (Nizoral), and terbinafine (Lamisil AT) are a few examples of common topical antifungal drugs used to treat skin conditions such as ringworm and athlete's foot.
  • Benzoyl peroxide: Creams, gels, washes, and foams containing benzoyl peroxide are used to treat acne.
  • Coal tar: This topical treatment is available with and without a prescription, with strengths ranging from 0.5% to 5%. Coal tar is used to treat conditions including seborrheic dermatitis (usually in shampoos) or psoriasis. Coal tar is seldom used because it can be slow-acting and can cause severe staining of personal clothing and bedding.
  • Corticosteroids: These are used to treat skin conditions, including eczema. Corticosteroids come in many different forms, including foams, lotions, ointments, and creams.
  • Non-steroidal ointment: The ointments crisaborole (Eucrisa) and tacrolimus (Protopic) and the cream pimecrolimus (Elidel) also are prescribed for eczema, including atopic dermatitis.
  • Retinoids: These medications (such as Retin-A, Differin, and Tazorac) are gels, foams, lotions, or creams derived from vitamin A and treat conditions including acne.
  • Salicylic acid: This drug is sold in lotions, gels, soaps, shampoos, washes, and patches. Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in many skincare products for the treatment of acne and warts.

Some common oral or injection treatments for skin conditions include:

  • Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics are used to treat many skin conditions. Common antibiotics include dicloxacillin, erythromycin, and tetracycline.
  • Antifungal agents: Oral antifungal drugs include fluconazole and itraconazole. These drugs can be used to treat more severe fungal infections. Terbinafine is an oral antifungal medicine that may be used to treat fungal infections of the nails.
  • Antiviral agents: Common antiviral agents include acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex). Antiviral treatments are used for skin conditions, including those related to herpes and shingles.
  • Corticosteroids: These medications, including prednisone, can help treat skin conditions linked to autoimmune diseases, including vasculitis and inflammatory diseases such as eczema. Dermatologists prefer topical steroids to avoid side effects; however, short-term use of prednisone is sometimes necessary.
  • Immunosuppressants: Immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine (Imuran) and methotrexate (Trexall), can be used to treat conditions, including severe cases of psoriasis and eczema.
  • Biologics: These new therapies are the latest methods being utilized to treat psoriasis and other conditions. Examples of biologics include adalimumab (Humira), adalimumab-atto (Amjevita), a biosimilar to Humira, etanercept (Enbrel), etanercept-zzzs (Erelzi), a biosimilar to Enbrel, infliximab (Remicade), ixekizumab (Taltz), secukinumab (Cosentyx), brodalumab (Siliq), ustekinumab (Stelara), guselkumab (Tremfya), risankizumab (Skyrizi) and tildrakizumab (Ilumya).
  • Enzyme inhibitors: Enzyme inhibitors such as apremilast (Otezla) shuts down an enzyme in the immune system to fight inflammation. Eucrisa ointment is an enzyme inhibitor FDA approved for mild to moderate atopic dermatitis/eczema.
  • Retinoids. Acitretin (Soriatane) is specifically used to treat all types of severe psoriasis. It reduces skin cell growth. It causes severe congenital disabilities and should not be used if you plan to become pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding.


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