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Struggling with Adult Acne? Here's How to Manage

You thought you were done with acne when your teenage years were over. Now it’s back. Learn what medical treatments are avail

Adult acne can be just about as embarrassing as teenage acne. You don’t want to go into a big meeting or greet new clients with inflamed red bumps on your face. In the workplace, it’s a fact and not a myth that you’re judged on appearance. 

Allen A. Flood, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, has a well-known practice in Washington, DC. If you’re dealing with adult acne, it’s important to have a dermatologist’s care not only to clear it up, but also to ensure that you don’t have an underlying and undiagnosed health condition. Adult acne can be a symptom of endocrine disorders. 

Advanced acne treatments

Dr. Flood uses the most effective acne treatments available today. Following are some of the most common therapies.  

Topical medications

Dr. Flood may prescribe a retinoid in the form of a cream or gel containing a derivative of vitamin A; it helps to kill bacteria and prevents clogged pores. He may also prescribe a special topical antibiotic for acne that includes benzoyl peroxide to prevent antibiotic resistance.

Oral medications 

Four types of birth control pills have been approved by the FDA for acne in women. You can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, if you want to use birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. 

For women whose acne flares up during changes in the menstrual cycle, Dr. Flood may prescribe a medication called spironolactone. Although usually prescribed for other conditions, physicians have been using the medication to help control adult female acne for more than 30 years

If your acne is moderate to severe, Dr. Flood likely also prescribes an oral antibiotic along with your topical medication and benzoyl peroxide.

If you have severe acne that doesn’t respond to antibiotics, Dr. Flood prescribes isotretinoin, (Accutane® and other brands) a specially formulated medication made from vitamin A. It decreases the amount of oil secreted from your glands. A bonus side effect is diminishing the appearance of fine wrinkles and giving your face a healthy glow. 

If you’re a woman, be sure you don’t take isotretinoin if you’re trying to get pregnant, or if you suspect you’re pregnant. Dr. Flood may have you take a pregnancy test. This medication causes severe birth defects. 

Photodynamic therapy 

Dr. Flood may apply a topical photosynthesizing solution to your acne. He then applies a special medical light to activate the solution. The treatment, photodynamic therapy, helps destroy bacteria, decrease the size of sebaceous glands that secrete excess oil, and even helps reduce the appearance of acne scars. 

Chemical peel

If you have a big celebration coming up in a month or two and want to look your best, Dr. Flood may ask if you want a chemical peel. Special acids help to refresh your skin and leave it looking radiant. 

Managing adult acne at home 

You can take proactive steps to help manage your acne. Following are reminder tips. 

Proper skin hygiene

Don’t wear your makeup to bed; it’s tempting, but bacteria growth can be rampant. Clean twice a day with a cleanser that Dr. Flood recommends. 

Check makeup, skin care, and hair product labels 

Always look for oil-free foundation and other oil-free makeup, cleansers, and hair care products. If you see “noncomedogenic,” it’s safe for you; it won’t block your pores. 

Wear sunscreen

If you had teenage acne, your skin may have some darker spots that are pigment changes from the pimples. Wear sunscreen every day so the spots don’t get any darker.


Diet may be an acne trigger for some individuals. Acne is an inflammatory condition. Research shows an association between full-fat dairy and acne. Sugary foods like cakes and cookies are also known to cause inflammation. Plus, these foods are linked to health risks such as heart disease and diabetes. 

An anti-inflammatory diet may not only ameliorate your acne, it’s also good for you. Leafy greens, tomatoes, nuts — especially walnuts and almonds — fish, and fruits like blueberries, cherries, strawberries, apples, and oranges, are all good choices. 

Instead of cooking with vegetable oil, use olive oil. Instead of white bread and white rice, buy whole grain bread and brown rice. 


Try mindful meditation and other stress-reduction exercises to de-stress. When you’re under stress, your body releases a surge of the hormone androgen, which activates the oil glands and hair follicles in your skin. The increased oil production can lead to those unsightly pimples. 

Reach out to the practice of Allen A. Flood, MD, to get answers and treatment about acne. Call for your appointment, or use the online booking feature to visit Dr. Flood for the most advanced skin care treatments available today. You can also send the team a message here on the website.

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