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Treating Acne In Adult Men

10 Things You Must Know About Treating Acne In Adult Men

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Updated June 02, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Haven't outgrown your teen acne? Or maybe your acne made a comeback (or even a first appearance) in your adult years?

You aren't the only one dealing with this skin problem. Adult acne in men is frustrating, stubborn, but not uncommon.

Here are 10 things you must know to successfully treat adult acne in men.

1. Adults Get Acne, Too

Teens aren't the only ones who get acne. Lots of people break out long after the high school years are over.

Many men find the acne they had during their teen years never really goes away, and continues right into adulthood. But sometimes acne can appear for the first time post-adolescence.

Acne affects both sexes equally during teen hood, but men tend to have longer lasting acne than women. And unfortunately, guys are more likely to have more severe acne too. The good news is acne can be treated successfully, even in adults.

2. Know What Causes Acne (and What Doesn't)

In your teens, you might have been told that working at a fast food place, or eating pizza, caused acne. We know so much more about acne development now that many of your old beliefs might not hold true anymore.

Why is it important to know what causes acne? Because it will help you treat it right, and get better results from your treatments.

3. Take Care of Your Skin

Just to be clear -- acne isn't caused by a dirty face. But a good skin care routine will definitely help get your acne treatments on track.

If you're not really "into" skin care, don't worry. You don't have to spend a lot of time, and you don't need a lot of products, to care for your skin effectively. Most men just need a good cleansing morning and night, and a moisturizer if acne treatments are drying out your skin. Easy!

4. Be Careful When You Shave

Acne can make shaving difficult (and sometimes painful.) Take extra care when shaving. Don't shave the tops of pimples off, if you can help it. And try to shave super carefully over acne blemishes.

If your blade razor is irritating your skin, try an electric to see if that helps. If you have more serious inflammatory acne, or if shaving in itself seems to really irritate your acne, you might want to experiment with a beard trimmer. This will clip the hair short but not completely remove it, and it can help save your skin from irritation (at least until acne starts to clear.)

Just FYI, sometimes what men think is acne is actually folliculitis, or an inflammation of the hair follicle. Guys with curly hair in the beard area are more prone to folliculitis, because the hair tends to curl under the skin. Again, leaving the hair a bit longer can help.

Not sure if it's acne or folliculitis? Your doctor can diagnose folliculitis, and prescribe medication if you need it.

5. Enlarged Pores Can Improve

Lots of men find that large pores are just as annoying as pimples. Large pores, also called follicular prominence by skin docs, are common in those with oily skin.

There really aren't any skin care products that can completely eliminate large pores, but you can help those pores look smaller. Over-the-counter products can give you some improvement. Some prescription products, like topical retinoids, are also good for large pores and treat acne at the same time.

6. You Have Treatment Options

There are many acne treatment options available today -- and that's a good thing! There's a treatment out there for everyone.

You might be able to get some improvement with an over-the-counter product, if your acne is mild (meaning some light pimples and blackheads). More stubborn acne will respond better to prescription medications.

Isotretinoin might be an option for you, too. You might know this medication by the brand name Accutane. Used properly, this medication can clear up severe cases of acne, even acne that hasn't improved with other treatments.

7. Body Acne Can Be Treated, Too

Maybe you have acne on places other than your face. Lots of people do. Back and body acne can be treated too.

You can buy body washes made specifically for body breakouts at your local drug store, Target, Wal-mart, etc. The most effective will contain benzoyl peroxide.

But if OTC products don't work, prescription medications are needed. Because it can be really hard (and messy) to smear a cream over your own back, an oral acne medication might be prescribed.

8. Don't Put Off a Visit to the Dermatologist

Sure, there are plenty of OTC acne products to choose from. But if your acne isn't getting better with them, it's time to move on to stronger treatments.

Even though time spent in the doctor's office may not be your idea of a good time, don't put off making an appointment. Your dermatologist will help you find a treatment that will clear up your skin. The sooner you make that appointment, the sooner you will start seeing results.

9. Be Patient; Acne Takes Time to Treat

Remember, acne treatments take time to work. on't get discouraged and definitely don't give up too soon.

It can take up to three or four months before you really notice a difference in your skin. Stick with a treatment at least that long.

And expect to still get some new pimples, or even a flare up, during the initial weeks of treatment. This doesn't mean your treatment isn't going to work. Give it some time, but ask your derm if you have any questions.

10. Don't Let Acne Drag You Down

Although it may be hard to admit, acne can affect your self-confidence. It can make you feel angry, anxious, depressed. Don't be too hard on yourself; you're not being shallow or vain. Lots of people feel this way. (If you feel like acne is affecting your life for the worst, and you can't seem to get past it, talk to your doctor.)

There is some good news here -- almost every case of acne can be cleared with the right treatment. Get on a treatment plan. Just feeling like you have some control over your skin can immediately give you a boost.

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  5. Adult Men Acne Problem Causes and Treatment

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