Adult Acne Treatment: An All-You-Need-to-Know Guide on Treating Stubborn Breakouts

Handsome man looking at himself in mirror. Squeezing pimple.

Are you way past your teenage years and still suffering from occasional acne or even frequent acne breakouts?

Well then, this article is perfect for you! Here’s a no-nonsense guide on how acne should be treated. But wait! Before you skip to our recommendations, we encourage you to first read about what it is (and what it isn’t) so you know how to go about treating this agonizing problem from its root.

Don’t worry. In this guide, we will be weeding out the myths of acne problems, while sharing with you what really works – all in simple and understandable terms. So let’s begin!

What is Acne?

Acne Skin on Body

Commonly developed on the face, chest, back and bikini line; acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This will cause you to have either one of these symptoms depending on the severity:

  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Papules (Small, red and tender bumps)
  • Pustules (also known as pimples)
  • Nodules (Large painful lumps beneath skin surface)
  • Cystic Lesions (Painful, pus-filled lumps beneath skin surface)

It is important that you know where the root of the problem is, and be able to treat it properly as unsuccessful attempts cause scarring and undue emotional stress. The earlier you begin treatment, the better!

Types of Acne Pimples

But What Causes Acne?

It is a common misconception to think that dirt or poor hygiene causes acne. However, it is actually caused by the excess oil clogging up our pores. All of us have sebaceous (oil) glands attached to our hair follicles. When those glands secrete excessive amounts of oil, it clogs your pores causing the growth of acne. When bacteria penetrate your skin cell, it will further aggravate the acne. So what causes the excessive secretion of oil? Here are some factors:

Woman with acne on her face

  1. Hormonal Changes

    An increase in hormones during puberty causes the sebaceous gland to enlarge, making more sebum (oil). In adults, conditions such as unhealthy stress levels, pregnancy and even taking oral contraceptives lead to irregular hormonal imbalances.

  2. Hereditary

    If any of your parents had severe acne in the past, there is a chance that you might have it too.

  3. Dry skin

    Yes, you read it right. When your glands are producing just the right amount of sebum (oils), our skin looks healthy and not shiny. Yet when our skin is too dry over a prolonged period of time, the glands will end up in overdrive of sebum production.

  4. Irritation to the Skin

    Harsh cleansers or razors used on dry skin can cause irritation. This lowers your skin’s defenses and causes a protective reaction that leads to inflammation like acne. Constantly using off-the-shelf products (tea tree oils, topical creams like Oxy10 and oil absorption sheets) that dries out pimples and acne, without the use of moisturizers can lead to dehydration and irritation of your skin.

Other Causes of Acne

  1. Pressure on Skin

    Pressure or friction caused by clothing or any equipment worn (i.e. a helmet strap). Although this has nothing to do with the secretion of oil, it can also aggravate acne.

  2. Medication

    Certain medication causes a change to hormones and can trigger adult acne. Some of these are corticosteroids, antidepressants, and epilepsy treatments.

What DOES NOT Cause Acne?

Fried Food

Here are some myths you might have heard:

  1. Myth #1: Eating fried food causes acne

    You might have been told by your parents or a friend that you should not eat greasy food when you have acne. Fortunately, that is a myth. There is no evidence proving that eating oily or greasy food causes acne.

  2. Myth #2: Poor hygiene causes acne

    Contrary to popular belief, this is a myth. Acne is not caused by dirty skin as most of the biological reactions occur beneath your skin. In fact, washing your face more than twice a day can aggravate your skin as this often dries it out, promoting the over secretion of oils from your glands that causes clogging of your pores.

  3. Myth #3: Makeup makes acne worse

    While some makeup products clog your pores and ultimately cause pimple outbreaks, the right makeup can improve acne conditions. Powder-based mineral foundations absorb oil that would otherwise clog your pores. Make sure that your makeup is ‘non-comedogenic’ – which means that the product hasn’t been found to promote acne development.

  4. Myth #4: Acne skin does not need moisturizers

    Since we know understand that excess oil secretion and clogged pores cause acne, it may seem counterintuitive to apply moisturizers on acne skin. However, this goes back to the fact that dehydrated skin produces more pore-clogging sebum than hydrated skin. Consider applying lightweight moisturizers daily to avoid forcing your glands to over-work and malfunction.

  5. Myth #5: Acne will go away on its own

    Acne problems do not resolve on their own. Without treating it, acne often progresses and becomes worse. Stop burying your acne woes with more myths.

Why You Should Treat Acne?


  1. Early treatment. Early recovery.

    It takes time to treat acne. Don’t expect it to magically disappear after a day of using a pimple cream. You may have heard of such stories from a friend but more often than not, it doesn’t work that way. The earlier you start proper treatment that targets the root of the problem, the less severe the condition you’ll need to treat.

  2. Reduced scarring

    Not treating acne inevitably leads to permanent and severe scars that you definitely do not want, especially if it is on your face.

  3. Prevent mild acne from turning severe

    This is important as when mild acne develops into a severe acne condition, you will need stronger medication to treat it. These medications have possible side effects and require close monitoring by your dermatologist.

  4. Avoid emotional distress

    No matter the severity, having acne can cause people to feel insecure and inferior about their appearance, often withdrawing themselves from others. It can take a toll on a person’s psyche and cause one’s self-esteem to suffer.

  5. More affordable to treat

    This is too obvious. Treating mild acne would cost less than treating severe acne. However, if your condition is severe, we’d advise that you still seek treatment so that it doesn’t spiral out of control.

    Severe acne is no gone-case. All acne-related conditions can be treated by certified professionals.

How to Treat Acne?

Woman receiving treatment

The goals of taking/using acne medication are to reduce oil production, speed up skin cell turnover, fight bacterial infection and reduce inflammation. The type of medication required depends on your age as well as the type and severity of your acne.

We always recommend speaking to a trusted aesthetic doctor or dermatologist to understand the risks and benefits of the medication and treatments.

Here are 5 ways to treat acne:

  1. Cleansing and skincare

    Mild cleansers: Usage of mild cleansers (e.g. Dove, Neutrogena and Cetaphil) will keep your skin clean and minimise sensitivity and irritation. They are popular and inexpensive too.

    Exfoliating cleansers and masks: Facial masks and scrubs can also be used to remove the outer layer of your skin and open up your pores.  Just be sure that you don’t use one that’s overly abrasive. Products containing glycolic and alpha hydroxy acids are fabulous skin exfoliators that are gentle on facial skin.

    Customized Skincare Products: If you’ve tried off-the-shelf products and have been disappointed, we’d like to recommend The Ogee Clinic’s Ogee Skincare System that personalizes skin care products for patients. No need for your face to be a guinea pig – this is a sure-fire way to ensure that you’re using the best skincare product for your skin.

  2. Reduce excess oil

    You can never stop your oil glands from producing oil. In fact, the oil produced is good for you as they are natural lubricants to keep your skin moisturised. However, too much (or too little) will cause the issues aforementioned.

    Use a gentle toner to wipe away oil and make sure to use oil-free products to avoid dry skin and to keep your skin moisturised. You will also find that most of us with acne issues fair better with gel-based moisturisers as compared to the thick and heavy creamy alternative.

  3. Reducing bacteria

    Antibacterial cleansers: They are applied externally and can come in the form of a cream, gel or lotion. The most popular antibacterial cleanser is benzoyl peroxide; an agent that kills surface bacteria. However, take note that benzoyl peroxide can cause red skin irritation to a small number of people. If it affects you, stop using it!

  4. A healthy lifestyle

    Well-regulated hormonal levels will help to put a stop to acne issues. Getting good sleep, exercising, and engaging in stress-reducing habits such as mindfulness and meditation can boost the wellness of your lifestyle.

  5. Seek professional help

    Many times, acne problems can be stubborn. When our self-confidence takes a hit, our unhappiness spirals out of control and emotions like these are part of a vicious cycle involving stress and yes – more acne popping!

    Seeking a trusted professional’s help could be the best way to put a stop to stress and your acne issues. Consider The Ogee Clinic’s Acne Buster Programme that customizes acne treatment based on the needs of patients.

    Focusing on the root of acne development, the programme entails sebum control, elimination of inflammation to the skin, untrap clogged pores and regulating the healthy generation of new skin cells.

Whatever You Do, Never Pick!

Man squeezing his pimple

You might be impatient and tempted to scratch your blackheads out or pick your pimple but never ever do so! Not only will it potentially cause permanent scarring, but bacteria from your hands can also penetrate further into the deeper layers of your skin cell causing further inflammation.

Professional and Effective Acne Treatment in Singapore

A couple smiling at the camera

There are definitely many treatment methods and medications available but it is always best to speak to a trusted professional to find out which is appropriate for your skin condition. To zap away your acne woes for good, make an appointment with The Ogee Clinic for an evaluation of your condition, be treated, and give your self-confidence the deserved boost!

Ogee Team

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