Female Adult Acne
While acne is typically associated with adolescence, many adult women develop acne blemishes on the face or other parts of the body. The acne cycle in women begins when excess skin oil clogs the pores, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, AAD. Bacteria thrive in the oil plug and irritate the surrounding skin to cause whiteheads, blackheads, pimples and cysts. Effective acne treatments target one or parts of the acne cycle.
Adult acne can be categorized as persistent acne or late-onset acne. If your adolescent acne continues into your late 20s, 30s, or even 40s, you have persistent acne. If your skin clears up in your teens or early 20s but you develop acne blemishes in middle age or later, that's late-onset acne, according to AcneNet.
Your doctor will examine your skin and ask questions about your medical history to identify acne triggers. These include hormonal fluctuations related to your menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause, according to AcneNet. Adult acne can be a side effect of medications such as seizure drugs and corticosteroids, or cosmetic agents including hair and skin care products. In some cases, stress will trigger an acne flare-up.
Mild to Moderate Acne
While it's tempting to browse the aisles of your local drugstore for help, over-the-counter acne treatment products can actually make adult acne worse, according to AcneNet. Instead, talk with your doctor about mild to moderate acne flare-ups. She may prescribe topical products containing benzoyl peroxide, retinoids and/or antibiotics. In some cases, oral antibiotics like clindamycin or erythromycin can help clear up acne blemishes.
Moderate to Severe Acne
Oral antibiotics are the best treatments for moderate to severe adult acne that doesn't respond to topical products, according to the AAD. Doxycycline, tetracycline and minocycline are also effective for acne that involves large areas of the body.
Severe Acne With Cysts
According to the AAD, isotretinoin is the only medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, for severe acne that creates pus-filled cysts. Because it causes severe birth defects if a woman takes it during pregnancy, women of childbearing age must register with the FDA's iPLEDGE monitoring program before using this medication.
Hormonally Influenced Acne
If your adult acne is triggered by your menstrual cycle, your dermatologist may recommend oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, according to the AAD. Diuretics, or water pills, like spironolactone, can minimize acne flare-ups associated with menstruation. For late-onset acne related to menopause, your doctor might suggest hormone replacement therapy, according to AcneNet.
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