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Acne Awareness Month: Doctor shares tips on treating acne


(NEW YORK) — There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning to a fresh red pimple.

Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

While it is typically seen as something affecting young adults, acne can continue into your 30s and even 40s.

In honor of Acne Awareness Month, we asked board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nkem Ugonabo to share advice for treating acne at different ages.

“Generally speaking, teenage acne is often related to normal hormonal changes that occur during puberty. Adult acne can also be hormonal in nature but may be related to other issues such as medications, makeup or skin/hair care products, etc. It could also be exacerbated by certain foods and stress,” Nkem told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

Below, read more of Nkem’s advice:

Teen acne

I recommend washing your face one to two times a day with a cleanser that combats acne-fighting medication such as benzoyl peroxide, which targets acne-causing bacteria on the skin. I will often also consider adding a topical retinoid such as adapalene at night. Topical retinoids decrease inflammation and increase skin cell turnover, both of which help with acne. If acne persists, a dermatologist may want to add a topical antibiotic.

Acne in your 20s

In some people, acne may persist or even start in adulthood. The latter is called adult-onset acne and is more common in women.

I often employ similar topical and oral treatments in this age group as described above for teenagers. I particularly love to recommend topical retinoids in adult women because they have the added benefit of having anti-aging properties because they stimulate collagen in addition to their acne-fighting properties.

Acne in your 30s and 40s

Women in their 40s and above can also experience acne that may be related to hormonal changes that occur with age. Specifically, as women get older, estrogen levels decrease and progesterone increases, which can lead to increased or new acne in our 40s.

For this kind of acne, I recommend seeing a dermatologist, who may consider treatment with an oral medication called spironolactone, which works by blocking the release of these androgen hormones. Your dermatologist may also recommend switching to or starting a birth control that is also approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating acne.

Finally, it is worth noting that a medical condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, can also present with acne as well as excess hair growth and irregular menstrual cycles and may require further evaluation by an endocrinologist.

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