Adult acne is different from teenage acne, and WebMD explains that over-the-counter topical medications are usually not very effective at treating this condition and recommends visiting a dermatologist to discuss treatment options. Dermatologists may prescribe a combination of topical and oral medications, including antibiotics, cleansing and exfoliating creams, and blood pressure medication.
Some laser therapies are designed to treat adult acne by sending concentrated beams of light deep into the pores to clear breakouts at their source within the roots of hair follicles. Dermatologists often prescribe retinoids to treat deep acne and keep the skin exfoliated so that dead skin cells do not accumulate in the pores and create new breakouts. WebMD explains that both teenage and adult acne occur in response to hormonal changes in the body, but teenage acne usually manifests as small, pus-filled pimples and clears itself up after puberty.
Adult acne crops up more commonly along the chin and jawline and forms as larger cysts deep under the surface of the skin. If not treated properly, it can cause pain and permanent scarring, notes WebMD. Topical drugstore acne treatments are effective at minimizing teenage acne or occasional flare-ups that appear on the surface of the skin, but they are not ideal for penetrating deep enough into the pores to tackle adult acne.