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Adult Male Acne

author image J.M. Andrews
J.M. Andrews has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years. She specializes in health and medical content for consumers and health professionals. Andrews' background in medicine and science has earned her credits in a wide range of online and print publications, including "Young Physicians" magazine.
Adult Male Acne
A man looking at his forehead in the mirror. Photo Credit yanyong/iStock/Getty Images

If you're an adult male with acne, you might think it's unfair that you're suffering from what's considered a teenage condition. But the truth is, one-fourth of all adult men suffer from acne at some point, according to Acne.org, and many of these men have acne on their bodies along with facial acne. Fortunately, you can treat adult male acne, although you may need help from a dermatologist to beat it.


Pimples develop when too much oil clogs your hair follicles, allowing bacterial infection to set in. Although hormones do spur oil production in the skin and likely contribute to adult acne, in most cases they don't serve as the root cause, according to MayoClinic.com. Most men who have adult acne have normal hormone levels, but they may have skin that responds to normal adult hormonal fluctuations by producing too much oil.


Acne can be tougher to treat in adult men and women than it is in teenagers, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, or AAD. However, in some mild cases, over-the-counter medications might defeat the pimples. The AAD suggests trying benzoyl peroxide-containing over-the-counter lotions and creams. In addition, over-the-counter products that contain the active ingredients sodium sulfacetamide and sulfur can help some adult males and females resolve their acne.

Topical Prescriptions

If over-the-counter medications don't provide enough improvement, adult male acne sufferers may need to consult a dermatologist. Dermatologists can offer prescriptions for more powerful acne-fighting medications. According to the AAD, effective choices for adults include topical retinoids, which help to renew the skin and break down pore blockages in the process, and topical antibiotics, which fight bacteria in acne.

Oral Prescriptions

In moderate and severe acne that includes significant bacterial infection, dermatologists may prescribe oral antibiotics to help the body kill bacteria. Effective oral antibiotics often used in adult male acne include minocycline and doxycycline, according to the AAD. Severe acne also can respond to the oral prescription medication isotretinoin, sold as Accutane. However, isotretinoin carries a risk of some serious side effects, including severe chest pain, headache and depression, and dermatologists generally reserve it for their worst acne cases.


Adult male acne can be much harder to treat than acne in teenage boys, and often takes much longer to clear completely, according to the AAD. The disease can lower self-esteem and potentially even cause depression in cases of severe disfigurement. The AAD urges men and women with bad cases of adult acne to visit a dermatologist, just to make certain that there isn't an underlying health condition driving the pimples.

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