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For many teenagers, acne is part and parcel of growing up – it can become something they simply have to live with and manage as best they can. But for some it can still pose a problem well into adulthood. While acne often clears up by the mid-twenties, about 5% of women and 1% of men have acne beyond the age of 25 – and it can have a big impact on confidence.

If you’re feeling frustrated because of bad skin breakouts, take a look at our guide to all things zits, pimples and acne – it’ll reassure you you’re not alone and there is help out there.

Why does adult acne occur? 

Acne can lay dormant for years, but there are several reasons why an outbreak may occur. Certain cosmetics or medication can trigger acne in adults, as can smoking. In women, many cases of acne are down to changes in hormone levels at various points in their lives, for example just before their period or while they’re pregnant. Polycystic ovary syndrome can also cause acne.

What adult acne treatment is available? 

Try to incorporate simple, hypo-allergenic products into your daily cleansing routine. As a kinder alternative to soap, use face washes specifically designed for people with acne – they contain antiseptics and various ingredients to unblock pores and gently clean the skin.

There are different treatments available depending on the severity of your acne. You might find over-the-counter treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide (such as Quinoderm and Panoxyl) effective, as they have an antibacterial action and remove blockages from skin pores. Prescription medication may be advised by your GP if over-the-counter products haven’t worked and you have a large number of papules and pustules. You may find topical antibiotics, such as Dalacin-T, Duac Once Daily or Zineryt, help to ease acne symptoms.

If you have severe acne, you may be referred to a dermatologist.

Adult acne: busting the myths

There are many misconceptions about acne so it’s important to ensure you know the facts. Despite what many believe, acne isn’t caused by dirty skin or poor hygiene. There’s also zero evidence to suggest a poor diet can cause acne – and if you’ve heard that sex can make the skin condition worse, this is also incorrect. Many people will turn to sunbeds in an attempt to improve the symptoms of acne, but there isn’t any evidence to imply that this works. In fact, you could be putting yourself at risk of damage to your skin or skin cancer.

If you’re worried about acne, you can arrange a confidential consultation through the Pharmacy2U online doctor service.