How to Treat Adult Female Acne

Adult female acne that occurs in a woman past her mid 20s is considered persistent acne. This type of acne is particularly common on the lower face. Stress, hormonal changes, medications and skin or hair care products can all contribute to this type of acne. Treating persistent acne may prove to be more difficult than treating teenage acne because some common treatments are too harsh and irritating for an adult woman's skin.

Washing your face is an important step in treating adult female acne. (Image: Avesun/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Wash the acne prone skin daily using a mild antibacterial soap. Limit washings to one or two per day, as more frequent washing may worsen the acne because of skin irritation.

Step 2

Apply an over-the-counter acne product that contains retinoids, benzoyl peroxide and an antimicrobial, or sulfur and sodium sulfacetamide. If you notice a pre-acne blemish early, or before the blemish becomes pronounced, retinoids are the only treatment noted as effective by AcneNet, an online resource from the American Academy of Dermatology.

Step 3

Contact your dermatologist for prescription medication, recommends Birth control pills can help to improve acne if hormonal changes are to blame. Antibiotics may help to control an infection. Corticosteroids will reduce inflammation. Your doctor may also write prescriptions for prescription strength versions of over-the-counter acne products.

Step 4

Limit the use of oily hair care products and cosmetics. Products such as pomades or oil-based cosmetic products can block the skin's pores. If you must use oily hair care products, keep your hair off of your face. For cosmetics, choose non-acnegenic, non-comedogenic or water-based products since these won't clog the pores.

Step 5

Keep your hands off the blemishes. If you frequently touch the blemishes, you may transfer bacteria to the area or irritate the area. Don't pop the pimples or pick at the acne lesions. Picking and popping may lead to infection and scarring.

Step 6

Stay out of the sun as much as possible and wear sunscreen. Acne medications can cause extreme sensitivity to the sun and the sun may make acne blemishes worse.


Cosmetic procedures like microdermabrasion, chemical peels and light or laser therapy may also be used to treat acne in adult females. These procedures may irritate the skin and should only be performed by a medical professional if they are being used to treat acne.


A prescription acne medication, isotretinoin, has been linked to birth defects, states the American Academy of Dermatology. If you are pregnant or if there is a chance you may become pregnant, tell your doctor so she won’t prescribe this treatment.

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