Adult Acne Treatments

Adult Acne Treatments At A Glance

  • Best Results4-10+ weeks
  • Treatment Recovery0 days
  • Procedure TimeNA
  • Skin SpecialistNurse, Dermatologist
  • Duration of ResultsMonths-Years
  • AnaestheticNA
  • Back to WorkNA
  • Cost$

Adult Acne Treatments

Acne is not just a teenage problem and may present in the late 20s through to the early 40s. This form of acne is more common in women and may be related to hormonal changes. Adult acne usually presents along the jawline and chin area. In severe cases acne lesions can be seen on the shoulders and trunk. Acne can range from a few pimples through to cysts & scars. Stress can be a contributing factor.

FactsFacts on Adult Acne Treatments

  • This form of acne is very common and affects up to 15% of the population
  • Hormones, diet & stress contribute to adult forms of acne
  • A simple skin care regime forms the basis of acne treatments
  • Controlling hormonal influx & oil production can improve or cure hormonal-related acne
  • Stopping the oral contraceptive pill can worsen or cause adult acne
  • Acne scarring is frequently seen however easily improved

What is adult acne?

What is Adult Acne Treatments?

As the name suggest, adult acne occurs in adult life. It may present as a relapse of teenage acne, or may occur as a sudden outbreak later in life. Acne lesions usually occur on the chin, and jawline area, but can involve the cheeks, neck, and trunk. In females, hormonal changes often contribute to adult acne.


Why do I get acne at this age?

Several factors contribute to adult acne, including genetics, hormones, diet & stress. Using harsh facial products such as exfoliants and tones can also worsen acne, and strip the skin of protective oils.

Adult acne is usually multifactorial. For unknown reasons genetic factors activate oil glands at a certain age. These oil glands are more responsive to hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, and insulin. Additionally stress with work, kids and life can flare acne up.

In some female patients, coming off the oral contraceptive pill is the cause. Remember, if you acne has been well controlled on the pill, coming off the pill may cause uncontrolled hormones to stimulate oil glands. This results in acne.


What treatment options do I have?


Adult acne is different compared to teenage acne- your favourites including Clearasil & Proactive (BPO) that worked in your early years just aren’t effective anymore.

Several effective treatment modalities are available to patients.

  • Creams & antibiotics can work in 30-50% of cases. Unlike teenage acne, antibiotics don’t usually cure adult acne.
  • Anti hormone treatments. This group of tablets include the pill such as Cyproterone acetate or Drospirinone. Another excellent anti-hormone tablet is Spironolactone. Anti-hormone treatments work in over 75% of adult acne cases, however it does take 2-3 months before patients notice a difference.
  • Lasers such as AviClear can markedly improve & often cure acne. 3 sessions are required, one month apart.
  • Chemical peels can decongest blocked pores, reduce blackheads and improve skin texture and skin tone. We advise either Glycolic Peels or Sal. Acid peels for acne control.
  • Treatments directed at the oil glands. This is the best method of treating adult acne however side effects need to be considered.
Adult Acne Treatments
Blue light can treat acne, however it should be used in caution on darker skin types as it can lead to post exposure pigmentation .

Treatment options for adult acne should be tailored to your lifestyle. For example, if you are contemplating pregnancy within 7-8 months of initial acne treatments, drugs such as Accutane or Roaccutane – Oratane are not advisable.

If you suffer from hormonal acne and pregnancy plans are not an issue, anti-hormones such as spironolactone maybe appropriate. Females in the 40s can also benefit from low dose Roaccutane – Oratane as a method of decreasing oil production.

Phototherapy with blue or red light can be effective in adult acne, and in reducing outbreaks during pregnancy.

Your dermatologist will find a solution for your acne based upon your life style, and your subtype of acne.


How do I know if I have hormonal type acne?

In many cases, adult acne is hormonally mediated. This condition is very common, and occurs in both women and men. In women, hormone acne usually occurs around the chin, jawline and cheek areas and present as deep lumps and cysts. In some cases acne follows a cyclical flare up with period cycles and stress.

Not uncommon, can be fixed. See my medical colleagues at Cutis Dermatology for an effective solution.

Hormone acne is frequently seen when patients cease the oral contraception pill, or change to another form of contraception such as Depo or the Implenon.

Davin’s Perspective on adult acne management

Adult acne is very common and the incidence is increasing. The cause of this condition is multi-factorial. Genetics, hormones, stress, poor diet, and incorrect skin care all contribute to this condition. In some patients hormones may contribute to a greater extent compared to other factors. The typical patient with adult acne presents in the late 20s to late 30s and has deep acne lesions around the chin and jaw line areas. A tendency to pick is frequent.

Treatments are aimed at inhibiting oil production, targeting the end cause of acne- the sebaceous glands.

Dermatologists can investigate any underling hormonal issues such as PCOS. Rarely there are increases in prolactin, androgens, DHEAS & 17 hydroxy progesterone. If hormone profile is normal, chances are you have an intracrine dysfunction & not endocrine.

Treatment options include peels, LED phototherapy & tablets as discussed elsewhere on this site. Other options include inhibiting hormones. Anti-hormonal treatment is either with the Pill or an anti-androgen such as spironolactone. The second treatment is aimed at shrinking down the oil gland, that involves Roaccutane or Oratane. Treatment options will depend on many factors including pregnancy plans, previous success and failures, as well as patient lifestyle factors.

The most exciting groundbreaking treatment for acne is due in Australia in 2023. It is called AviClear. This laser targets the cause of acne- the oil gland. It has been in the United States since early 2022 & the results are excellent- over 85% clearance at 3 months. This is faster than the most powerful drug against acne (Accutane).

AviClear targets the cause of acne whilst sparing normal skin.


Scarring is prevalent in this subtype of acne, as there is often a tendency to pick. Early & effective treatments will mitigate permanent scars. A tailored approach gives the best outcomes.

Disclaimer: I am a procedural dermatologist. I do not treat medical conditions such as acne. My colleagues @cliniccutis can help

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