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Options for Adult Acne

While acne is often the cause of teen angst, it can also plague adults, particularly women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. In fact, women of those age groups can develop acne even if they never had acne as a teen.

Adult acne can be caused by hormonal changes, greasy or oily cosmetics or hair products, certain drugs such as corticosteroids or high levels of humidity and sweating, according to Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Contrary to what some people think, foods have little effect on acne. Nor is acne caused by dirt. In fact, scrubbing your skin too hard or cleaning with harsh soaps or chemicals can cause irritation, which may make acne worse.

Acne treatments work by reducing oil production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection or doing all three. Your doctor or dermatologist could recommend these acne treatment options:

Topical acne treatments
Acne lotions may dry up the oil, kill bacteria and promote the removal of dead skin cells. Nonprescription acne lotions may contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid or lactic acid. They can help with mild acne. If your acne doesn't respond, you may want to see your care provider for a stronger prescription acne lotion such a tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova) or adapaline (Differin).

Prescription oral antibiotics may be needed to reduce bacteria and fight inflammation for moderate to severe acne. They may be used in combination with topical acne products.

Isotretinoin (Accutane, Claravis, others)
This powerful drug is used for acne that scars or doesn't respond to other treatments. It takes close work with your doctor because of possible severe side effects.

Oral contraceptives
These have been shown to improve acne in women, especially those with acne related to menstrual cycles.

See your doctor if you have a sudden onset of acne, especially if your acne is severe. Acne can occasionally signal an underlying medical problem.