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Look into the mirror lately? Blemishes, blackheads, and whiteheads bothering you? The thought of acne usually conjures up images of gawky teenagers, certainly not 30-something adults. However, dermatologists report that acne affects millions of adults, and that number is rising.

Is adult acne different from adolescent acne? Yes and no. Just like teenage acne, adult acne is caused by clogged pores. However the underlying cause of the blockage is different. Whereas a teenager's pores become clogged because of the excess oil associated with puberty, adult pores are most often clogged by dead skin cells.

What can you do about adult acne? Before rushing out to the drug store, remember that an adult's face must be treated more gently than that of a teenager. The products available to treat adolescent breakouts often are too drying to an adult's skin. Fortunately, a number of new over-the-counter acne products specifically designed for adults have come on to the market. Take your time exploring the drug store shelves because there are a wide range of choices.

To treat adult acne, you must focus on shedding the dead skin cells that trap oil and bacteria. Face washes and toners with salicylic acid penetrate the skin and unclog pores. Salicylic acid is useful for treating current breakouts and acne problems. Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria. Use it sparingly, if at all. Generally benzoyl peroxide is too drying for adult skin and only should be used directly on blemishes.

The best long-term answer to treating adult acne is prevention. Face washes or moisturizers with alpha hydroxy acids can be used to exfoliate the skin, or slough off the old skin cells, and prevent the blockages in the first place. Finally, to prevent new blockages, use sunscreens, moisturizers, and cosmetics that are labeled as non-comedogenic. Non-comedogenic products do not contain ingredients that clog pores.