One of the more common myths we have grown up with is that acne (real name: acne vulgaris) is only a teenager’s problem.  Of course, this is not the least bit true. We see lots of acne affecting adults in their middle years, and even beyond their fifties. 


Systemic causes:

  1. Hormonal: acne certainly can flare around the teen years, or around the time of a woman’s menstruation.  Body-building steroids can also cause acne  in many athletes.
  2. Diet: This one is controversial, as there is not much science to prove direct connections between foods and skin complexion.  However a pencil and paper will be a good way to track any such links.  Just diarize your food intake at the end of each day, and note how your skin was.  If a pattern emerges, like acne worse after certain foods (chocolate, sugar, etc) then try to exclude these, and see if the trend improves.  If there is no connection, then you can eat what you like, but it obviously makes sense to avoid junk foods for a number of other reasons! 
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Local causes:

  1. Sweating, eg under the shoulder pads of football and hockey players, or around the central face/nose area in those who tend to have oily, sweaty patches on the face.
  2. Clogging the pores with petroleum/oil based skin products and make-up.   Always look for the labels that say “non-comodonogenic.  If you need to cover up the damage, brush on  a light mineral based powder foundation. 
  3. Over-handling: acne skin is inflamed and already sensitive by nature.  So don’t scrub too vigorously, and resist the temptation to pick or even touch zits during the day.  Confine yourself to gentle cleansing twice a day, using warm compresses with a face cloth.


  1. OTC (over-the-counter) products: such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid.  There is a large selection of products to choose here, with a wide variation of responses.  Some patients get a positive response to vegetable oils, like olive oil or coconut oil, both worth a trial to see if they help overnight.  Not scientifically proven, but harmless to try, especially while you are waiting for your referral to the dermatologist.
  2. Prescriptions:  your doctor can select from several options here.  For women who also want to avoid pregnancy, certain birth control pills can help, such as Alesse, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Yaz and Yasmin.   Topical gels of prescription strength, like Metro Gel (also available in a cream) can prove effective.    Systemic antibiotics such as tetracycline and minocycline are also good in LOW dose format.  Much like aspirin can be taken in tiny doses for purposes of clot prevention, antibiotics can be given in mini-doses daily for long periods without problems.   However, taking a probiotic would also make sense, please see our blog on
  3. Procedures:  Your doctor can review a menu of options, from ozone-based electronic stimulation of active lesions (“zit-zappers”) to laser resurfacing of old acne scars. 
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