7 Popular Adult Acne Treatments


Acne breakouts, though more common during adolescence, can even occur during adult life. It is estimated that a fifth of adult men and about a third of adult women experience acne flare-ups. Hormonal changes during the different phases of adult life trigger acne. Women are usually troubled by acne breakouts before periods and during pregnancy and menopause.

adult acne

Sensitivity to male hormone, cosmetics, certain medications and corticosteroids are frequently associated with acne flare-ups. Treatment for acne varies from person to person. What works for one may not work for another. Through trial and error, you may discover the appropriate acne treatment.

Adult Acne Treatment Options


Retinoid, a vitamin A derivative, is an effective topical medication for adult acne. It works by cleaning the clogged pores. When combined with topical antibiotics, retinoid facilitates transportation of the medication in the hair shaft, thereby speeding up the healing process. Retinoid-based ointments are used for treating moderate to severe acne breakouts. They are usually not recommended during pregnancy.


Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is the active ingredient in most of the over-the-counter creams and lotions used for treating acne. Acne occurs due to overgrowth of the P. acnes bacteria in the pores clogged by dead skin, oil and dirt. Benzoyl peroxide treats acne flare-ups by killing the P. acne bacteria. Moreover, it also helps to unplug the pores clogged by dead skin debris. Mild to moderate acne breakouts usually respond to treatment with benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl peroxide

Salicylic Acid

By cleaning the pores, salicylic acid provides fast relief from acne. People prone to persistent acne breakouts should use a salicylic acid product daily to prevent clogging of the pores. Prolonged salicylic acid use may increase skin dryness that can be avoided by applying an oil-free moisturizer to the skin daily.

Salicylic Acid


Antibiotic ointments are frequently applied to the affected areas of the skin to kill the P. acnes bacteria. Oral antibiotics are used for treating moderate to severe acne flare-ups that do not respond to conventional treatments. Antibiotics should be used according to the instruction of the dermatologist.

Antibiotic ointments

Also Read

Best Acne Treatment for Adult Acne
Acne Breakout During Adulthood
How to Clear Up Adult Acne

Birth Control Pills

Hormonal disorders that trigger acne can be corrected with birth control pills. Elevated level of the androgen hormones stimulates excess sebum production that makes the skin oily. Oily skin is susceptible to acne flare-ups. Hence, reducing sebum secretion by correcting hormonal balances with birth control pills is recommended for treating adult acne. This treatment option for adult acne is best suited for premenstrual acne breakouts. Only oral contraceptives containing both estrogen and progesterone are used for treatment. They work by reducing the androgen level in the body.

birth control pills

Light Therapy

Blue light therapy is used for treating severe acne. Targeting pulsed light to the affected areas of the skin kills the acne bacteria, providing rapid relief from acne.

blue light therapy

Herbal Treatment

Herbs with antibacterial properties are widely used in adult acne treatments. Herbs commonly used for treating acne include neem, thyme, yarrow, wormwood, burdock, guggul, eucalyptus, turmeric, basil, goldenseal and tea tree. Applying paste or essential oil of the anti-acne herbs to the zits alleviates acne flare-ups rapidly.



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