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Many teens struggle with acne, but if you thought you could outgrow clogged pores, pimples and painful nodules, think again. Acne can affect teens and adults of almost any age. Fortunately, you have several options for treating this skin condition.

Causes of acne in adults and teens

Breakouts on a teenager’s face, back, chest, neck and shoulders often arise because of surging androgen levels, a male hormone that both men and women have. Androgens increase the production of sebum, an oily substance that keeps your skin moisturized. Introduce dead skin cells and bacteria, and you have a recipe for acne.

Genetics can also affect your chances of having teen acne. If one or both of your parents had acne – and the large pores and oily skin that go with it – you’re more likely to develop these characteristics in your teens.

After puberty, hormonal changes level out and no longer fuel bad breakouts. Still, there are plenty of other factors that contribute to adult acne, including chronic stress, inflammation, and fluctuating hormones around a woman’s menstrual cycles, during pregnancy, and when starting or stopping birth control pills. For these reasons, women are more likely than men to struggle with adult acne. Some people even develop adult acne after never experiencing breakouts as a teen.

Preventing teen and adult acne

The prevention methods for acne are largely the same whether you’re a teenager or an adult:

  • Wash your face (and other parts of your body prone to breakouts) morning and night.
  • Take a shower as soon as possible after working up a sweat.
  • Shampoo your hair regularly, especially if it’s oily.
  • Avoid touching your face to prevent bacteria on your hands from transferring to sensitive facial areas.
  • Ladies, use oil-free moisturizer and makeup designed not to clog your pores or cause breakouts. Avoid harsh, inexpensive products containing alcohol and artificial colors and fragrances.
  • Reduce your milk and refined sugar intake, which some studies have linked to acne breakouts.

Treating acne in teens and adults

When breakouts occur, avoid picking at inflamed pimples. This can introduce more bacteria to the irritated area, making the zit worse and possibly leaving a scar once it heals. Instead, work with a dermatologist to choose the right combination of acne treatments for adults and teens.

Start by selecting skincare products with acne-fighting ingredients. Salicylic acid helps eliminate dead skin cells that fuel pimples. Benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria. Glycolic acid removes oil and dirt from the skin. Retinol, which is derived from vitamin A, helps prevent new acne and combats signs of aging.

Adults can also try laser cosmetic procedures, such as light therapy treatment designed to reduce inflammatory acne or DermaPen to treat acne scars.

At Arlington Dermatology, our dermatologists are experienced at treating both teen and adult acne and can help you identify the best products and procedures to address your condition. If you are experiencing symptoms of acne, please contact us at (847) 725-0824.