Newswise — While acne is often the cause of teen angst, it can also plague adults, particularly women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. In fact, women of those age groups can develop acne even if they never had acne as a teen.

Hormonal changes, greasy or oily cosmetics or hair products, certain drugs such as corticosteroids or high levels of humidity and sweating could contribute to adult acne, according to the October issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Contrary to what some people think, foods have little effect on acne. Nor is it caused by dirt. In fact, scrubbing your skin too hard or cleaning with harsh soaps or chemicals can cause irritation, which may make acne worse.

Acne treatments work by reducing oil production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection or doing all three. Your doctor or dermatologist could recommend these treatment options:

Topical treatments -- Acne lotions may dry up the oil, kill bacteria and promote the removal of dead skin cells. Nonprescription lotions may contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid or lactic acid. They can help with mild acne. If your acne doesn't respond, you may want to see your care provider for a stronger prescription lotion such a tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova) or adapaline (Differin).

Antibiotics -- Prescription oral antibiotics may be needed to reduce bacteria and fight inflammation for moderate to severe acne. They may be used in combination with topical products.

Isotretinoin (Accutane, Claravis, others) -- This powerful drug is used for acne that scars or doesn't respond to other treatments. It takes close work with your doctor because of possible severe side effects.

Oral contraceptives -- These have been shown to improve acne in women, especially those with acne related to menstrual cycles.

See your doctor if you have a sudden onset of acne, especially if it's severe. It can occasionally signal an underlying medical problem.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today's health and medical news. To subscribe, please call toll free 800-333-9037, extension 9PR1.

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