Get rid of adult acne

May 16, 2011 at 6:21 p.m. ET

Acne isn't just for teenagers. Fifty percent of adult women deal with adult acne at some point or another. Dermatologists are seeing women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond with acne. Find out more about the causes and treatments of this persistent and annoying skin problem.

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What's causing your zits

If you often get pimples, figure out their cause. Some acne is preventable. Possible causes of adult acne include stress, cosmetics, bacteria and hormones.

Stress: If you get breakouts before a big meeting or special date, it's probably stress-related acne. Do what you can to eliminate stress.

Cosmetics: Your makeup and skin care products could be causing your acne. Avoid products containing toxic chemicals and other irritants. Mineral makeup, botanical skin care lines and natural cosmetics are all great choices to reduce breakouts.

Bacteria: Acne can be caused by dirt and bacteria. Don't touch your face with dirty hands or objects, and be sure to wash your makeup sponges and brushes regularly. Don't ever sleep with your makeup on, no matter how late it is.

Hormones: If your pimples pop up at the same time each month, then your acne may be hormonal. Many woman get premenstrual breakouts, particularly around their mouths. While you can't eliminate your hormones, some women experience fewer zits when they are on birth control pills.

Treatment options for adult acne

Many products are on the market to help treat pimples and stop new ones from forming. Benzoyl peroxide lotions are the most common OTC treatment for teenage acne, and that goes for adult acne as well.

These products can be very drying, so apply the lotion only to affected areas. If you see redness or patches of excessively dry skin, skip a day between treatment rather than applying benzoyl peroxide every day. Proactiv, Oxy and many other store-brand benzoyl peroxide creams are available.

Clearasil products use a combination of sulfur and resorcinol to attack your acne. These products reduce oil, remove dead skin cells and help clear up your pimples quickly. Salicylic acid, contained in some Oxy, Noxzema and other OTC products, has been shown to be effective on both whiteheads and blackheads.

When OTC treatments don't work

If you have persistent acne that isn't responding to treatment at home, consider seeing a dermatologist or esthetician. A dermatologist can prescribe prescription-strength medications to get your acne under control, as well as give injections to get rid of problem pimples fast.

An esthetician is not a medical doctor but can be a tremendous asset in fighting adult acne. Estheticians are skin care therapists who can perform deep-cleansing treatments, recommend products and help you establish a personalized skin care regimen.

More skin care tips

Top 10 ways to hide blemishes
Is it acne or rosacea?
How to zap a pimple fast