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Acne Cures That Really Work, Says Dermatologist

Dermatologists reveal five ways to help treat acne.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Just because you're no longer in your teen years and awkward puberty stage, doesn't mean you're done with acne. Adult acne is a common problem that can happen in your 30s, 40s and even 50s. but there are ways to help manage it. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with dermatologists who share their advice for helping get rid of adult acne. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Why Adults Get Acne

young woman taking pill
Shutterstock / New Africa

Dr. Karan Lal of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Hackensack, NJ shares, "Adult onset acne is becoming increasingly common. Some causes include hormonal fluctuations in women, mask use in men and women, taking too many B vitamins(common with B12), hormone supplementation, and increased yeast growth on the skin (more common in those who sweat a lot/ work out)."

Dr. Lilliana Ramírez García MD with  Nava MD™ adds, "Hormones play a big role in adult acne. For example, androgens (male hormones that are also present in women) can cause your body to create an excessive amount of sebum. This can clog your pores and causes acne. Chemicals in your hair products, skincare products, makeup, and even your toothpaste can also cause adult acne." 


Who is at Risk for Adult Acne

middle age woman to see a mirror

According to Dr. Lal, "Women make up the majority of patients with adult onset acne. Patients with oily/more sebaceous skin are more likely to break out  throughout their lives. Patients undergoing transition for gender affirming are also at risk for acne during transition due to hormonal shifts."


Change Your Diet


Dr. Garcia reveals, "Following a low-glycemic diet (a diet that reduces spikes in blood sugar) can also have a positive impact on acne-prone skin. You see, when your blood sugar spikes, it causes inflammation throughout your body. It can also make your body produce more sebum, or oil. Both inflammation and sebum can cause acne.. To avoid these issues, steer clear of processed foods like white bread, packaged breakfast cereals, and other highly processed foods. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, and grains like barley and wild rice, that don't spike your blood sugar."



Dr. García says, "Consider a prescription formula containing tretinoin. Tretinoin is a skincare ingredient derived from Vitamin A. It works by speeding up healthy cell turnover, the process of replacing dead skin cells (which can contribute to acne breakouts) with fresh, living cells. It also helps prevent your sebaceous glands from secreting excessive amounts of sebum. Together, these functions make tretinoin effective in preventing and treating acne breakouts. It's also important to mention that tretinoin can stimulate your skin's production of the structural protein, collagen. This can help reduce acne scarring. Nava MD offers personalized prescription solutions containing tretinoin, so it's a great option for women with acne-prone skin."


Certain Medication Works

Shot of woman nutritionist doctor writes the medical prescription for a correct diet on a desk with fruits, pills and supplements.

Dr. Lal shares, "The cure-all for adult acne is Isotretinoin also known as Accutane. This medicine shrinks your oil glands making it inhospitable for bacteria and yeast  killing any of your chances of developing pimples. The classic teaching is: If you are over 18 and do a course of Accutane there is an 80% chance you are unlikely to break out in the future. This medicine requires you to see your dermatologist every month. Patients of child bearing potential must also be abstinent or be on two forms of birth control while on treatment due to risk of birth defects."

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Laser Treatments

Female doctor in latex gloves performing the laser skin resurfacing on the young patient face

"There are multiple new devices that are excellent at treating acne," Dr. Lal states. "One of these includes the Neo elite laser by Aerolase which is a painless Nd-Yag laser. This device heats  pimples and reduces inflammation. It is safe for ALL skin types and can also treat acne scarring. Treatments need to be done in a series and are not covered by insurance. It's a great alternative for patients who want to avoid pills."

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Topical Treatment Regimens

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Dr. Lal says. "The most common treatments for acne across the board are topical preparations. Medications like tretinoin, benzoyl peroxide, minocycline/clindamycin, when used in combination often result in up to 30-40% improvement in acne. Their efficacy depends on patient consistency and severity of acne. There is a new topical medication called Winlevi which helps address the hormonal component of acne in men and women. It does not cause irritation like some of the other topicals."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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