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Acne Treatments for Men

Most of the boys usually get acne as teenagers. However, sometimes it can last much longer than teenage years. Even grown, adult men end up having acne, sometimes, severe acne. One of the biggest causes of acne can be changes in hormone levels. These hormones create oils that can lead to clogged pores, which sometimes let the bacteria grow. Both of these problems cause breakouts.

Dr Prateek Sondhi, Aesthetic Dermatologist, Derma Circles, says “Acne is a very common condition and men can get it at any age. Age is not a bar for development of acne. So there is a testosterone hormone, under which pimples start forming. Men get acne even in their 40s and 60s.”

Apart from that, men who had fathers with severe acne can end up with acne as well. Hair as well as skin products that consist of pore clogging oil can lead to acne in men as well. Along with that, medication and stress can cause acne in men too. If a man has an undiagnosed medical condition, that too can lead to acne.

When we talk about acne in men, it mostly takes place on the face as well as the back. However, sweating can make it worse in men. Acne takes place on the back during the summer season or after intense exercising. But it is hard to see these acne on your back as most of the time it is covered up.

Dr Sondhi said “When people are working in a very hot and humid environment that can cause acne.”

If you are done with all the acne you have had on your body and want to treat it the right way, we have a few acne treatments for you that will help you treat it the right way. Have a look below:

Topical Medications

Retinoids and Retinoid-like drugs

If you have moderate acne, drugs that contain retinoic acids or tretinoin will be quite useful for you. These drugs come as creams, gels as well as lotions for men. Some of the examples for you are tretinoin (Avita, Retin-A, others), adapalene (Differin) and tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage, others). You must apply these in the evening, beginning with three times a week, then daily as your skin becomes used to it. It prevents plugging of hair follicles. However, do not apply tretinoin at the same time as benzoyl peroxide.

Topical retinoids increase your skin’s sun sensitivity. They can also cause dry skin and redness, especially in people with brown or Black skin.


Antibiotics work by killing excess skin bacteria and reducing redness as well as inflammation. Initially, for the first few months, men may use both a retinoid and an antibiotic, with the antibiotic applied in the morning and the retinoid in the evening.The antibiotics are often combined with benzoyl peroxide to reduce the likelihood of developing antibiotic resistance. You can apply them to the skin

Azelaic Acid and Salicylic Acid

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid produced by a yeast and has antibacterial properties. A cream or gel with 20% azelaic acid seems to be as effective as many conventional acne treatments when used twice a day. However, its side effects include skin redness as well as minor skin irritation.

Salicylic acid may help prevent plugged hair follicles and is available as both wash-off and leave-on products. Certain studies have found that its effectiveness is limited. However, its side effects are skin discolouration and minor skin irritation.

Oral Medications


If you have moderate to severe acne, the best way to treat it would be to take oral antibiotics to reduce the skin bacteria. Usually the first choice for treating acne is a tetracycline (minocycline or doxycycline) or a macrolide (erythromycin or azithromycin).

However, oral antibiotics should be taken for the shortest period of time to prevent antibiotic resistance. Apart from that, they should be combined with other drugs, such as benzoyl peroxide, to reduce the risk of developing antibiotic resistance.

Severe side effects of taking antibiotics to treat acne in men are quite uncommon. However, they do increase your skin’s sun sensitivity.


Isotretinoin is a derivative form of vitamin A and might be prescribed for men whose moderate or severe acne has not responded to other treatments. There are potential side effects of isotretinoin, such as inflammatory bowel disease and depression. Men who are taking isotretinoin should see their doctors regularly to monitor for side effects, and also take it only when advised by a specialist.


Light Therapy

A range of light therapies have been tried out for acne in men and a few of them have been successful as well. This light therapy will require multiple visits to your doctor’s clinic. Much more study is required to determine the ideal method, light source and dose.

Chemical Peel

In the chemical peel procedure, a chemical solution is repeatedly applied on the skin, such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid or retinoic acid. However, this is a treatment for mild acne and while it may improve the appearance of your skin, the change is not long lasting and the therapy is required repeatedly.

Drainage and Extraction

In this therapy your doctor might use different tools to gently remove whiteheads and blackheads that haven’t cleared up with topical medications. While this technique temporarily improves the appearance of your skin, it might also cause scarring.

Steroid Injection

This therapy has resulted in rapid improvement and decreased pain. Nodular and cystic lesions can be treated by injecting a steroid drug into them. However, it has certain side effects, such as skin thinning and discoloration in the treated area.


Acne in men can be a pain in the neck for them as it can lead to low self confidence as well as low self esteem. With acne on their face, certain men do not even want to look at themselves in the mirror as they are unable to face reality.

Dr Sondhi said “So because of acne men become very conscious. It can lead to loss of confidence and self esteem and it can also cause problems in their career as their job selection might be reduced because of the disfigurement of their face.”

However, with the above given acne treatments, acne cannot last much longer on your skin. These are some of the best treatments for acne that you will be able to find as a man. So whether you have mild, moderate or severe acne, you can always approach a doctor and go for the right acne treatment for your skin.

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