Acne treatment Acne treatment

Stubborn Adult Acne

Stubborn Adult Acne Stubborn Adult Acne


Most people think of acne as a teenage problem, with good reason: up to 85 percent of teenagers have pimples, and most people who have acne are teens or younger adults, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. But acne can strike at any age, and adult acne can be stubborn and difficult to treat. Fortunately, dermatologists have treatments that can clear skin even of stubborn acne.


It's not clear why some people develop acne, but the Cleveland Clinic says that hormonal surges and fluctuations likely play a major role. Teenagers experience these hormonal shifts, but adults, especially adult women, also are prone to them. If you're a woman, you might experience acne breakouts right before your period or if you become pregnant due to shifting hormones.


Hormones drive the body's sebaceous glands, which produce lubricating oil for the skin, to produce too much oil. The oil then clogs pores and encourages bacterial growth. Benzoyl peroxide, a common and effective ingredient in anti-acne medication, helps to dry up that oil, according to the Mayo Clinic. Another effective ingredient, tretinoin, helps to prevent the pores from clogging by promoting new cell growth in the skin. And topical antibiotics can help kill bacterial infection. Your dermatologist may recommend a combination medication for your stubborn adult acne.

Physical Procedures

If your stubborn adult acne doesn't respond to medication, you might want to consider physical procedures to treat it, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Laser treatments target the sebaceous glands directly, shrinking them so that they produce less oil. LED light therapy, meanwhile, kills the bacteria that contributes to acne. Chemical peels can loosen blockages in pores. In particularly severe acne, your dermatologist may recommend surgical drainage and extraction of acne lesions.

Women's Option

Women who suffer from stubborn adult acne have one extra option: oral contraceptives. Birth control pills stop the sebaceous glands from producing too much oil by controlling the hormones that drive those glands. Three brands of oral contraceptives hold U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval specifically for acne, but dermatologists say several others are effective in controlling breakouts.


Stubborn adult acne can be persistent, and successful treatment may take months or years, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you have stubborn adult acne, you'll likely need help from a dermatologist and a combination of different therapies to clear your skin. You and your dermatologist may need to try several medications or procedures before you find the combination that finally gets rid of your pimples for good.

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