Adult women are in a demographic that is particularly difficult to treat when it comes to acne. Remedies that may be beneficial for adolescents just don’t seem to work as well for patients in the 30-50 age group. It appears that acne in adults is on the rise in the United States. The possible reasons for this range from high stress lifestyles to poor overall dietary habits that place additional strain on the immune system. These suggested causal links have not yet been established with hard evidence. However, it has been conclusively demonstrated that hormonal changes from pregnancy or various medical conditions may lead to changes in the skin including adult onset acne.
Topical Treatments Have Limited Usefulness
Adult female patients often develop acne along the jaw line and on the neck. The skin in these areas is quite delicate. Most topical products are mildly irritating in the best of circumstances. They may hurt more than they help when applied to sensitive skin. Over the counter and prescription medications for topical acne remedies don’t vary much in their ingredients or in the way they affect the skin. Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that contribute to acne symptoms. Salicylic acid helps slough off dead skin and clear pores. Irritation, redness, burning, and dryness are all common side effects of these ingredients.
Oral Medications Commonly Prescribed
Low doses of antibiotics are sometimes prescribed for adult patients who do not respond to topical acne remedies. Doxycycline and minocycline are two examples of drugs that are frequently used for this purpose. The treatment may last for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, some women experience chronic yeast infections when they take antibiotics for acne. This may require repeated treatment with an oral medication such as Diflucan or an over the counter remedy such as Monistat. Antibiotics may also interfere with the effectiveness of hormonal birth control medications.
Hormonal birth control itself is another potential acne treatment for women who also do not wish to become pregnant. It usually takes several months for the hormone levels in the body to create an improvement in the skin. In addition, this remedy does not work for all women (which can be a disappointing discovery after a patient has waited 6 months or more to see results). It also carries a risk of serious side effects – especially for women who smoke.
Isotretinoin (an oral vitamin A medication that was originally sold under the brand name Accutane) may be suggested in extreme cases. Adult female patients with acne should consult with a dermatologist, their regular family physician, and their OBGYN to select the best treatment option.