Adult acne

What it is, what causes it and how to treat adult acne


There are many reasons why adults can experience acne. Common causes are stress and hormonal fluctuations (i.e. menopause or hormonal medications). Medications such as Lithium, corticosteroids and anti-seizure drugs can also cause acne in adults.

Increased levels of oil in the skin causes acne, which can increase bacterial growth, resulting in spots of infection. Increased oil production can result from hormonal imbalances, and is treated differently from other forms of acne.

Adult acne is usually treated differently from teenage and hormonal acne. Over the counter medications such as Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acid are not a particularly effective treatment form of adult acne, because it is generally rooted deeper in the skin.

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Generally, patients are encouraged to start with a topical gel treatment containing dapsone which reduces the inflammation involved in acne. However, the best acne treatment for adults is often a combined treatment of two or more medications. The best treatment could be a combination cream, including a cleansing agent (e.g. Benzoyl Peroxide) and antibiotics (e.g. Lymecycline or Oxytetracycline) or a combination of oral and topical treatments. Retinoid creams (such as Isotretinoin) that help to cleanse pores and oral antibiotics that reduce inflammation is commonly used in the treatment of adult acne. Hormonal treatments, such as the combined oral contraceptive pill or Spironolactone, may be used if the acne is thought to have a hormonal basis.

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