Acne treatment Acne treatment

Moderate Adult Acne

Moderate Adult Acne Moderate Adult Acne


Although almost every teen will get acne due to surging hormones, adults suffer from the extremely common skin condition, too. In fact, up to half of adult women and one-quarter of adult men will have pimples during their lifetimes. Moderate adult acne can resist treatment more stubbornly than teenage acne, but in most cases, you and your dermatologist will find a solution.


When acne strikes, it's because your skin has produced too much oil. According to the Mayo Clinic, this oil clogs your hair follicles when combined with dead skin cells. In moderate adult acne, you'll also have an overgrowth of bacteria, which is what causes infection and inflammation. Moderate adult acne generally includes many whiteheads and blackheads, plus pimples that cover at least one-quarter of your face.

Starting Point

Many people with moderate adult acne start fighting the skin condition with over-the-counter products they get at their local pharmacy. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends products containing either benzoyl peroxide, which fights bacterial infection and also helps to curb shedding of skin cells. In addition, the AAD says that sodium sulfacetamide-containing products, which also kill bacteria, can help adult acne sufferers.

Prescription Medicine

Since adult acne tends to be tougher to treat than simple zits in teenagers, you may need help from a dermatologist. Your physician can prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to fight your bacterial infection. You also might consider a drug such as the retinoid tretinoin, best known as brand name medication Retin-A, to help unplug your pores. For acne that resists these prescription treatments, you might receive a prescription for the oral medication isotretinoin, a derivative of vitamin A that works extremely well to clear acne, but which also can cause some severe side effects.

Another Option

If you're a woman whose acne hasn't cleared despite treatment with antibiotics and retinoids, you might want to try oral contraceptives. It's your shifting hormones that tell your skin to make the oil that causes acne. Although most people with adult acne have normal hormonal levels, oral contraceptives can help to level out your monthly hormonal swings. However, it can take up to six months for you to see a difference, and you'll need to take birth control pills continuously for them to work.


Although some dermatologists and some skin care spas heavily advertise physical procedures to treat acne, the AAD cautions that they haven't been studied in adults, and so it's not clear whether they will help to clear your skin. Available procedures include laser treatments, which can help reduce oil production in your skin, and chemical peels, which may help loosen blockages in pores.

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