Because I know the adult acne treatment world is filled with snake oil salesmen and false promises, let me begin with this: There is no true “cure” for acne. If there were, believe me, I’d have found it by now. Also, I am NOT a medical professional in any way, so this is NOT medical advice. This is just my personal experience treating my own acne.
There are MANY effective adult acne treatment options that may work for you. Let’s go over 15 of them below. I’ll share any personal experience I’ve had with them too.
Yes, let’s start with the big A. Accutane has been called the “closest thing to a cure for acne” there is. No doubt, this drug is powerful. But with great power comes great risks. I do not want to scare you, and I am NOT a medical professional. But the two times I visited dermatologists to discuss Accutane, I was given many pamphlets and was told it is a long and arduous process to even get on the drug. I’d have to read about all the risks of Accutane, sign paperwork, get on birth control, and come in every month to take a pregnancy test (these last two are because Accutane can have dangerous effects on a baby if you were to become pregnant while on it).
The most common side effects are extremely dry skin and chapped lips. But Accutane has much more serious, though rare, side effects too. Accutane is prescription-only, so if you are interested in it, speak to your doctor to find out the risks and potential effectiveness for you.
For many, Accutane is the “last resort.” It was for me too. Thankfully, I never ended up having to use Accutane because I found a way to clear up my adult acne naturally.
Spironolactone is another prescription-only drug that I was considering for my acne. It was recommended to me by one dermatologist because it specifically helps with hormonal acne in women. It has potential risks, including birth defects if you become pregnant while taking it.
3. DIM (Diindolylmethane)
DIM is a herbal supplement that does not require a prescription. It’s often taken by women with hormonal imbalances and there are lots of good reports of it clearing up hormonal, cystic acne.
Since 2018, I’ve been taking DIM twice a day. It has made a HUGE difference in my acne, energy levels, and mood stabilization.
4. Doxycycline (or other antibiotic)
Because acne is caused by bacteria, antibiotics can be effective in clearing up acne. In fact, taking doxycycline completely cleared my acne in about a month. But after a few months of quitting doxycycline, my acne came back with a vengeance. So…it’s really only a temporary thing. Taking antibiotics long-term can have negative effects.
5. Laser treatments
Lasers can kill bacteria and “resurface” your skin so acne scars fade more quickly. I’ve had several laser treatments, and they are NOT cheap.
6. Benzoyl Peroxide (Acne.org Treatment)
I’ve used SO many benzoyl peroxide products. The best one I’ve ever used (and still use sparingly to this day) is the Acne.org Benzoyl Peroxide gel.
Two warnings about Benzoyl Peroxide:
- It is extremely drying, so you need to ease into it and use a GOOD moisturizer.
- It bleaches clothing and fabrics, so make sure your towels and bedsheets are WHITE.
LED Light Therapy is a lesser-known adult acne treatment, but oh my gosh, it WORKED for me. In particular, you need to use the BLUE LED lights. I used an LED Light Therapy Mask, and then for a cheap “hack,” I started using a blue LED plant light. I used the blue LED lights for 30 minutes every night WITH PROTECTIVE GLASSES and with my eyes closed. Blue LED light wavelengths have been shown to kill bacteria, which is why it works on acne (which is caused by acne).
Dapsone is an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory often used to treat leprosy. But, it was prescribed to me when my adult acne was at its worst.
9. Differin (or other retinoid)
Differin is a retinoid that is commonly prescribed to treat acne. It can really work, BUT, the problem is that it’s extremely common for Differin to initially cause a “purge.” That means, at first, your acne will get WORSE before getting better. It sucks, and that’s why I stopped using it. If you can stick it out and get through the purge though, Differin can really help your acne.
10. Sulfur Mask
This sulfur mask had AMAZING Amazon reviews from people who had successfully treated their adult acne with it. I tried this back in 2018 when my acne was at its worst. I didn’t stick with it because it is very drying, and I mistakenly used it with Dapsone AND Benzoyl Peroxide and my poor face was so dry I couldn’t even smile. However, used sparingly, this sulfur mask might be a good option for you. (And remember, MOISTURIZE!)