Dermatologist Tips on How to Improve Adult Acne

get rid of adult acne

Dermatologist Tips to Improve Adult Acne*

When growing up, having acne seemed like a right of passage through adolescence. But, as the most common skin disorder in the United States, acne often plagues more than just our teenage years. Nearly ⅓ of adults will suffer from adult acne during their lifetime,  with women being much more likely to suffer from adult acne than men. Some adults have severe adult acne, suffering from painful nodular and cystic acne, while other adults only experience the occasional flare ups of annoying blackheads and whiteheads.  Regardless of the extent and severity of your adult acne, no grown man or woman wants to deal with a skin condition that is typically attributed to adolescent kids.

Fortunately, there are several tips and treatments you can follow to combat your adult acne, ensuring your complexion consists of smooth, clear, healthy looking skin. Learn more about adult acne and get expert advice on how to prevent and treat adult acne in this interview with Board Certified Dermatologist and Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Dr. Hadley King, MD.

What causes adult acne? 

Is salicylic acid better than benzoyl peroxide for treating adult acne?

This depends on each individual patient. Acne Treatments with Salicylic Acid are better for adults with dry or sensitive skin. Adults with very sensitive or dry skin may want to avoid acne treatments containing either ingredient. Benzoyl Peroxide sensitivity is common in many adults, therefore I would recommend that people hold off on using acne treatments with Benzoyl Peroxide, until they can consult with their dermatologist or skin care professional.

What are some tips on how to treat cystic acne?

Generally cystic acne is caused by hormones. A few of the best treatments for cystic acne which are available to women include oral contraceptive pills or another hormonal option named spironolactone.  Isotretinoin (Accutane) is also a very effective cystic acne treatment for adults.  Many people consider Accutane to be the best acne treatment available, but Accutane carries the risk of significant possible side effects and therefore is usually reserved for acne that is unresponsive to other treatments. Lastly, Intralesional corticosteroids are also helpful for treating individual cystic acne lesions.




When trying to remove blackheads is it okay to pick at them?
How can I get rid of blackheads?

A combination of a topical acne medication in the retin-A family and gentle exfoliation with either salicylic acid or gentle physical exfoliation (for example a scrub) is the best regimen for reducing blackheads and preventing blackheads from coming back. Remember though, it is normal to have some blackheads.

How often should I exfoliate to reduce blackheads?

When you first begin to exfoliate for blackhead removal, limit the exfoliation to 2-3 times per week.  If your skin is tolerating the exfoliation well, then it is fine to increase the frequency of exfoliation.

What can I do for dark spots caused by acne?

For treating dark marks left over from old acne, Hydroquinone remains the gold standard.  There are several other options available, including kojic acid and azelaic acid.  Topical medications in the retin-A family are also helpful in treating dark spots caused by acne. 

It is important to note that picking and squeezing acne lesions increases the risk for leaving dark marks after the acne lesion resolves.  Do not pick or squeeze your acne!

Can I use medicated acne face wash while taking prescription acne medication?

If you are on a regimen of prescription topical acne medications, then it may be wise to avoid face washes that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide and stick to a bland and gentle face wash, such as Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Wash. The combination of prescription acne medications and medicated acne face washes containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide may be too irritating for the skin.

Otherwise it is okay to try an acne face wash containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.  Keep in mind that many people have sensitivities to benzoyl peroxide and will not be able to tolerate a benzoyl peroxide wash.

How long does it take before I will know if my new acne regimen is working?

Give your new acne treatment regimen a month before judging how effective it is for you.

The most effective way improve adult acne and prevent it from coming back, is to seek out professional acne treatments from a skin care professional who can evaluate your individual situation and prescribe a treatment plan that is best suited to your needs. If you are suffering from adult acne, sign up now for a free consultation with a skin care expert from SKINNEY Medspa.

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