Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Adult Acne Overview

Adult Acne Treatments

Once adult acne is diagnosed, there are quite a few techniques for treating the condition. Usually, a combination of remedies is most effective.

The most common treatment methods include using topical creams, lotions, gels and solutions. Over-the-counter acne medications work by killing the bacteria that cause the inflammation or by removing excess oil and dead skin cells from the pores. Although these products typically help treat acne flare-ups, many are designed to target adolescent acne and might not work as well as other treatments for adults [source: AcneNet].

Oral medications are a popular alternative to topical treatments. Because adult acne is influenced by fluctuating hormone levels, some medications can help the body to regulate its hormones and better control sebum production. Oral antibiotics have been shown to help get breakouts under control [source: AcneNet].

Laser and light therapies are able to work in the deeper layers of the skin where sebum is created. Lasers are believed to reduce oil production by damaging the sebaceous glands without harming the outermost layer of the skin. Other techniques claim to destroy the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria that cause inflammation in the pores. For example, blue light therapy is thought to destroy P. acnes. Pulse light and heat therapy, a type of which is FDA-approved, is said to both kill P. acnes and shrink sebaceous glands. [source: Mayo Clinic]

If you're not interested in direct acne treatment, chemical peels work on the damaged outer layers of skin with a mild acidic solution. The treatment is believed to remove dead skin cells, clear up blocked pores and boost growth of new skin cells. However, the ability of chemical peels alone to decrease acne has not been proven, no matter how much spas tout their abilities. Chemical peels are often used in combination with a topical cream to increase their effectiveness [source: Mayo Clinic].

Learn more about the types of products most often used when treating adult acne in the next section.