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Adult Acne: Causes and Treatments

By HERWriter
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causes and treatments for adult acne Comstock Images/Thinkstock

Getting through adolescent acne was bad enough, developing adult acne just doesn’t seem fair. Adult acne is thought to affect 25 percent of adult men and 50 percent of adult women at sometime in their adult life, according to Acne.org.

Adults can develop acne due to various conditions. Treatments used as teens may not work well or may excessively dry out and irritate skin. Adults often respond better to combination therapy but extra patience is needed to come up with the right mixture of medications.

Adult acne in women may be caused by fluctuating hormones during pregnancy or menopause. Stopping the use of birth control pills may cause a hormone shift so acne breakouts occur or if a woman is taking progestin only pills acne can be made worse.

Acne in women can also be a sign of a more serious hormone imbalances such as adrenal or ovarian tumors, according to Skincarephysicians.com. Factors such as stress, family history or use of various skin and hair products may also contribute to acne.


Topical treatments are often tried first to control adult acne. It is important to only use gentle cleansers such as Cetaphil and Aquanil to wash your skin and prevent more irritiation.

An over-the-counter medication that contains sodium sulfacetamide and sulfur may help. Combinations of benzoyl peroxide used with a topical antibiotic such as clindamycin or erthryomycin may control mild to moderate acne.

Retinoids come as either over-the-counter products in the form of retinols but better acting ones require a prescription. A dermatologist can decide which ones are less irritating based on your skin type.

Retinoids also can improve the appearance of wrinkles, another adult skin concern. Sunscreen must be worn when using these products.

Oral medications are the next level of treatment for adult acne. For women who have hormone-related acne, birth control pills and spirolactone may be tried.

If the woman had developed postmenopausal acne, other hormone medications may be given instead, particularly if there are other hormone fluctuation symptoms to be treated such as insomnia, mood swings or hair loss.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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