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Acne in Men

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Most men who have acne as teenagers will outgrow the condition. But some men will still have severe acne decades later.

What Causes Acne in Men?

For most people, changes in hormone levels trigger acne. These hormones create oils that can lead to clogged pores, which sometimes let bacteria grow. Both of these problems cause breakouts.

Men whose fathers had severe acne are more likely to have it, too. Some medications such as lithium, which is used to treat bipolar disorder, and corticosteroids can also bring on acne.

The Male Breakout

Men often get acne on the face and back.

Sweating can make it worse. Breakouts of back acne often happen in hot weather or after exercising. Back acne is harder to control than acne on your face. (The good news is that fewer people see acne on your back.)

Some men get shaving bumps that look like acne, but this is actually caused by ingrown hairs or shaving improperly.

What You Can Do

Keep your skin clean. Many different cleansers are available. In general, avoid products with beads in them, because they can irritate your skin. Wash your skin twice a day.

Your Face

Use your hands or a baby washcloth that is gentle on your skin. Make sure to use a clean washcloth every time you wash your face.

Be careful when shaving. Use a clean razor every time. You might want to use an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide wash before and after you shave. Your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic foam that you can mix with your shaving cream to help prevent breakouts.
If shaving bumps are a problem for you, try using an electric razor, and don’t shave too closely.

Your Back

When showering, use a cleansing brush with an extension to wash hard-to-reach areas on your back. A sonic cleansing system with a changeable brush head is another option.

Products containing benzoyl peroxide can help control acne on your back.

A white, cotton tee-shirt is the best thing to have closest to your skin.

Stubborn Acne

If acne won't go away, other treatments may help.

Some non-prescription creams and lotions can not only help with acne but may also erase wrinkles that come with aging. Go easy on lotions containing benzoyl peroxide. They can be helpful, but they can dry your skin.

Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about prescription medications, including antibiotics to fight acne. Drugs with ingredients called retinoids are effective. Drugs that control hormones are not used for men.

For severe cases, some men use a drug called isotretinoin. Women who plan to get pregnant must avoid this drug, as it can cause birth defects.

There are also "high-tech" treatments for acne. One of these is a laser skin treatment, and another is light therapy combined with vacuum therapy. These treatments can be expensive, and your insurance may not cover them, so check first.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on August 26, 2013
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