A guide to treating adult acne
There are a variety of acne products out there—here’s how to choose what’s right for your skin.
Acne is the most common skin condition. Prevalent during adolescence, acne’s reach extends well beyond the teenage years. Hormones, genetics and medications are generally the main contributing factors for developing acne as an adult. Not surprisingly, more women than men are affected as menstruation, pregnancy, menopause and changing or stopping of hormonal birth control all affect hormones.
There are a variety of acne products on the market. The treatment approach chosen is typically dictated by the severity of the acne. Mild cases are often treated with topical over-the-counter products; look for benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid in the list of active ingredients. Moderate to severe cases of acne typically require prescription grade therapy. This can range from topical preparations to oral antibiotics and prescription or change of birth control. Isotretinoin is generally considered the gold standard of therapy, with evidence supporting its clinical effectiveness, ability to sustain remission and limited scarring. Speak with your health care professional to choose the agent that best fits your needs.
Regardless of the severity, everyone who suffers from acne should follow these basic principles:
- Gently wash the affected areas twice daily and pat the skin dry. Scrubbing or roughly drying the skin can cause more irritation, increasing redness.
- Only use moisturizers, cosmetics, sunscreens and cleaners that are labeled as: non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, oil-free or “won’t clog pores.”
- Avoid popping pimples, as this may prolong the healing process and lead to scarring. Try to avoid all forms of manual manipulation (touching, squeezing, pinching, picking and scratching).
- Only shave the affected area, if and when necessary.
- Apply sunscreen. Sun may worsen scarring and many acne products increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
- If using topical medications, apply to the entire affected area and apply prior to putting on other products.
- Be patient. Acne therapies may take several weeks to show improvement.
Heather Cross a certified geriatric pharmacist, working as a licensed pharmacist since 2009.
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