Though you may think of acne as a hallmark of the teen years, zits can appear at any age. Adults of all ages suffer from acne from time to time. What causes it and how can we prevent these annoying red blemishes that mar our complexions? Some experts say that changes in hormone levels (like those in menopause) and taking or stopping birth control are two possibilities. Some medications also cause acne. Yet a common culprit is just bad skincare. Not washing skin enough OR washing skin too much can cause distressing blemishes.

Cleansing

Dermatologists recommend washing your face twice a day with lukewarm water and a gentle fragrance-free cleanser, then patting skin dry. Also avoid harsh exfoliators or too many peels.

Acne-fighting lotions

As well as fighting wrinkles, retinoid creams work to clear skin of acne. For spot treatments, try benzoyl peroxide at a lower concentration like 2.5% or 5% rather than the maximum over-the-counter strength of 10%. Apply sparingly, since overuse can dry skin.

Cosmetics

Sometimes makeup can cause breakouts. Look for skincare and cosmetics that clearly state they’re noncomedogenic (meaning they don’t clog pores) or non-acnegenic, meaning they don’t cause acne (better). Certain BB and CC creams will be noncomedogenic, improving skin’s health as well as its appearance.

Prescription Medication

Some birth control can help acne caused by hormone fluctuations (and some can actually cause acne) so your doctor might have you try different birth control pills. And certain antibiotics like clindamycin (which also comes in a topical version) keep acne bacteria under control. Two other prescription drugs, Aldactone and Isotretinoin are clearing acne from the inside out.

Light Therapy

PDT or light therapy uses lasers and light to clear skin of acne. These usually require multiple treatments and maintenance treatments to keep skin clear. The best thing is to ask your dermatologist, who can look at the history of your skin and current state to recommend the best course of action.