Adult acne can be frustrating and embarrassing but there are many ways to treat it. Acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and tea tree oil can work wonders for your skin. Your doctor can also recommend stronger treatments like retinoids or medication to treat your breakouts. To help stop breakouts, do your best to eat healthy to prevent the buildup of acne-causing oil in your pores.
EditUsing Topical Treatments
- Wash your face twice a day with a salicylic acid cleanser. With clean hands, lather a salicylic acid facial cleanser onto your skin. Rinse it off thoroughly. Pat your face dry with a clean towel to make sure your skin isn’t exposed to any more bacteria.
- You can purchase a salicylic acid cleanser online or in most drug stores.
- Salicylic acid should be clearly labelled as a main ingredient on the packaging.
- If your skin is very dry, wash only the acne-effected areas with the salicylic acid cleanser or alternate it with a gentle cleanser to avoid over-drying.
- Apply a hot compress to your acne 3 times a day to open clogged pores. Run a clean cloth under warm water and wring it out thoroughly. Gently apply the cloth to your acne and hold it there for about 10 minutes. This will improve blood circulation to this area, helping to unclog the pores.
- The compress should not be hot enough to scald your skin.
- Spot treat blemishes with benzoyl peroxide gel or cream. Benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria and exfoliates the skin to remove oil and dead skin cells. Start with a mild benzoyl peroxide treatment and move on to a stronger dosage if it is not effective. Apply benzoyl peroxide cream or gel directly to your acne with a clean finger 1-2 times daily.
- It is available in strengths ranging from 2.5% to 10%.
- Start with a mild benzoyl peroxide treatment and move on to a stronger dosage if it is not effective.
- Be careful when applying benzoyl peroxide as it can bleach hair and clothing on contact.
- Possible side effects of using benzoyl peroxide include dry skin, redness, burning, and stinging.
- There are many cleansers, moisturizers, and lotions with benzoyl peroxide, but it is better suited as a spot treatment given its strength.
- Benzoyl peroxide creams and gels are available online, at pharmacies, and at some department stores.
- Apply a treatment with tea tree oil to your acne as a natural alternative. Tea tree oil is a natural acne-fighting ingredient that is milder than other harsh breakout treatments. Buy a face wash, cream, lotion, or gel that contains at least 5% tea tree oil to target acne. Since tea tree oil is not as strong as ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, it will likely take a bit longer to see results.
- Possible side effects may include mild itching, burning, redness, and dryness.
- Only use tea tree oil topically.
- Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to reduce redness. Hydrocortisone creams contain a low dose of steroids that can ease the redness of your acne and help reduce the swelling. Apply the cream directly to your acne with clean fingers. The longer you leave the cream on your acne the more effective it will be.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream to clean, dry skin.
- Smooth hydrocortisone cream onto your skin until it disappears. You do not have to wipe it away afterwards.
EditGetting Medical Help
- See your doctor to rule out any medical causes for your acne. Several medical conditions that affect hormone levels could be the culprit behind your acne. Pregnancy or menopause could also be the cause. Visit your doctor to diagnose or rule out any of these conditions.
- For instance, overactive adrenal glands may be causing your acne and should be treated.
- Treating the underlying condition will usually clear up your acne.
- Ask your dermatologist about retinoids to treat your acne. Retinoids are strong skin-conditioning treatments available in both over-the-counter and prescription doses. They are available in gel, cream, and liquid form. Talk to your doctor to see if retinoids are the right choice of treatment for your acne and follow their recommendations for dosage and application.
- Your doctor will likely recommend a lower concentration to start to avoid irritation.
- Retinoids may not be the right choice for you if you have very dry or sensitive skin.
- Tell your doctor if you are or may be expecting, as some retinoids should be avoided if you are pregnant.
- Discuss the contraceptive pill with your doctor for your hormonal acne. Many women suffer from acne due to hormonal changes or imbalances. Ask your doctor if taking a daily contraceptive pill would help to treat your breakouts. Discuss the possible side effects with your doctor to decide if this option is right for you.
- Your doctor may not recommend taking the pill if you are a smoker, taking medications that may conflict with it, or have a history of cancer.
- Side effects of hormonal birth control may include blood clots, irregular bleeding, increased blood pressure, and headaches.
- Ask your doctor about oral antibiotics if you have severe acne. Your doctor may prescribe a short-term antibiotic treatment if your acne doesn’t respond to any other treatments. Tetracycline or macrolide antibiotics are most commonly prescribed for acne. Discuss the possible side effects with your doctor to decide if this treatment is best for you.
- Side effects may include dizziness or upset stomach.
- Antibiotics will only be prescribed for a few weeks to avoid the risk of your body building up a tolerance to them.
- Your doctor may also prescribe a topical antibiotic, which is less effective and may also loss its effectiveness if the bacteria under your skin builds up a resistance to it.
EditAdjusting Your Diet
- Eat fewer carbohydrates and refined sugars. Sugar and starchy foods cause a spike of insulin in the body, resulting in a rise of male hormones that may cause acne. To reduce your risk of acne, replace these refined carbs with healthier choices like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Cut down on foods like:
- White bread
- White potatoes
- White rice
- Sugary breakfast cereal
- Avoid foods with high salt and iodine if you are prone to breakouts. Iodine is an element that can build up in your body over time and cause acne, particularly in people who are prone to blemishes already. Iodine is mainly found in salty foods, but also in shellfish and green vegetables like kelp and spinach. Reduce your consumption of these foods to help treat your adult acne.
- Read products labels while grocery shopping to avoid prepared foods with heavy sodium content.
- Aim to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.
- Cut back on dairy to reduce your risk for adult acne. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt can sometimes cause acne by affecting hormone levels in the body, causing oil production to increase. Reduce your consumption of dairy to see if you notice any change in your complexion. Get nutrients like calcium and vitamin D from other sources, such as kale, almonds, salmon, and calcium-fortified orange juice.
- Reducing stress may also help control breakouts.
- Clean your cell phone with disinfecting wipes a few times a week to get rid of acne-causing bacteria.
- Hormonal IUDs may cause acne breakouts.
EditSources and Citations
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