Adult Acne Treatment | Water's Edge Dermatology

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Treating Adult Acne

Acne is frequently considered a skin disorder of adolescents and teens. Unfortunately, acne can affect adults in their 20s, 30s and beyond. Many factors can contribute to the appearance of acne, including hormones, disorders of the hair follicles and infections. While there is no cure for acne, there are many effective ways to control and treat adult acne.

Adult acne can be divided in two groups of patients. The common acne in children can also occur in an adult, which is known as acne vulgaris. Another form of adult acne is known as acne rosacea. Acne rosacea is commonly recognized by the inflammation and redness of the face, but most often lacks the appearance of blackheads or open comedones.

Acne can be controlled with over-the-counter products as well as prescription medications. Establishing a skin care regimen with a dermatology provider can be very helpful in treating acne. Many treatments are available, including cleansers, topical treatment, oral antibiotic therapy, oral isotretinoin courses and even blue light therapy.

Starting with a mild antibacterial cleanser or benzoyl peroxide wash twice daily keeps the face and body clean and keeps oil to a minimum. Do not scrub the face and body clean as friction can increase the acne lesions.

Prescription treatments available for acne can be topical creams, gels or solutions. The topical medications can include one or more medications. Topical medications should be used consistently and as prescribed by your provider for best results. Topical treatments can be drying, so it is important to speak with your provider about adding a moisturizer or decreasing the frequency of use if this occurs.

Oral antibiotics can be used to treat acne and acne rosacea in adult patients. Oral antibiotic therapy can be given for short-term or long-term treatments, depending on the response to treatment and the medication prescribed by your provider. Low dose, long-term antibiotic therapy is available and effective for many patients.

Oral Isotretinoin is an option for severe acne. It was previously marketed under the name Accutane but is available now in generic forms. This particular medication is available if other oral medications have failed. Isotretinoin is closely monitored by a program called iPledge. Blood work is monitored each month by your provider. Two forms of birth control must be in place for female patients as this medication can cause birth defects if pregnancy occurs during the time period the medication is being administered. This medication is generally given for a course of four to six months.

The most important key to the management of acne is to be consistent with your use of medication. Consistency is important.

Finally, even acne prone skin needs sunscreen each day. Finding a sunscreen that is oil-free and non-comedogenic is important. Please visit a Water’s Edge office for Elta MD Shield, which is a zinc sunscreen that is lightweight, absorbs completely and is great for oily skin types.

References: Acne (n.d.) American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Retrieved from

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