Passionate About Des Moines
and the Moms Who Live Here

My Struggle with Adult Acne

One of my biggest insecurities as an adult has been my struggle with adult acne. I spent most of my adolescence with normal teenage-hormonal pimples—nothing a little concealer couldn’t handle. So, I thought as an adult I would be in the clear. Pimples and breakouts are suppose to disappear as an adult, right?! I was so wrong. I thought the only thing I would have to worry about as an adult was wrinkles. But this did not prove to be true for me. After each baby my acne got worse and worse. I didn’t have a face covered in pimples, but I was getting “cystic acne” regularly. I was at a point where I would manage one blemish only to wake up with a new one.  I was so frustrated! (If you don’t know what cystic acne is, read about it here: Cystic Acne: What Is It and How Do You Treat It?)

I was at my wits end with my skin. I remember telling the girls at workout class that I would take a 10-pound weight gain just to never have a pimple again. At least I could hide under cute clothing. But my face couldn’t be hidden. I did get quite good at hiding it under loads of makeup, but even that was annoying. I literally put on a full face of makeup before going to workout class because it was so embarrassing.

I also tried every acne cure out there—natural, antibiotics, over-the-counter… you name it, I tried it. Always with the same results: no change, and sometimes it seemed to make my acne worse.

My Struggle with Adult AcneHere I am with a mild breakout. I wish I had a better before picture, but truthfully, I just didn’t  take very many up-close selfies when my skin was broken out. So, keep in mind… most of the time my skin looked much, much worse. (P.S. My headband is from Strawberry Revolution. I love their headbands!)

Finally, I pulled the trigger and made a dermatology appointment. I decided to go with Skin Iowa because I had heard from several friends (some of whom worked in healthcare) that they would be the most aggressive in dealing with acne. They got me in within a week to see Seth Robb, PA-C. It was such a good meeting! I liked him right away because he listened to my skin woes and he understood how frustrated I was.

He put a plan in place for me! After discussing my options, we decided to go ahead with an acne treatment called Isotretinoin (popularly know as Acutane). I literally could see the results within a week. I had NO acne. No more painful, painful cystic acne. Hallelujah!! No more worrying about scarring, no more caked-on makeup, no more insecurities about my skin…. I felt and still feel like my skin is glowing! Thank you, thank you to Skin Iowa for listening to me and helping me with my acne!

Here I am being goofy! Probably because I am so happy that my skin is clear and glowing again… and literally, this is the only recent selfie I have with my refreshed face! Happy, happy girl!Edited Adult Acne

***Disclaimer: Isotretinoin cannot be used if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant during treatment and even one month after treatment. You should consult your dermatologist to see if Isotretinoin is the right treatment for you.

***Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Have you struggled with adult acne? How did you deal with it?


11 Responses to My Struggle with Adult Acne

  1. Anonymous February 5, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    Katie! This was a great post. Acne is such an obvious thing, but it’s a “silent struggle.” I had smooth, clear skin until I had to take fertility drugs as an adult. I thought after pregnancies and stopping the drugs my skin would clear up, but it never did. I tried topicals, antibiotics, special diets, you name it. It was a constant struggle, and I hated going out in public. I did not go the Accutane route, but I finally found a topical that seems to be working. I’ve also discovered I break out when I eat too much refined sugar, so I suppose the acne has forced me to make better choices in my diet! Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Lindsay February 6, 2015 at 6:18 am #

    Thank you for this post! I took acutane for awhile but now my cystic acne is back. I need to get back on!

  3. Jody February 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

    Adult acne is such an embarrassment! I struggled with it for 7 years, trying everything from natural remedies, to diet changes, to topical products, before I finally let me dermatologist (Dr. Kathy Cook, Skin Solutions Dermatology in Ames & Ankeny) prescribe Claravis- aka Accutane. It was a very difficult decision for me as the side effects are pretty scary when you read them- liver failure, horrific birth defects, heart problems…. You didn’t mention the two months of blood work before you can begin taking the drugs, or the monthly pregnancy tests and two forms of birth control.

    Making the decision to use a form of Accutane is not one to be made lightly. It is expensive if your insurance doesn’t pay for it (mine didn’t) and treatment can last up to 6 months.

    That said, I did the full treatment and am so glad I did. It was the best decision for me – but it wasn’t one I made lightly.

  4. Katie Evans February 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    Agreed Jody! There are lots of potential side effects from taking Accutane! However, if you go on Accutane your doctor is responsible for going over all the risk and determine if it’s the right course of treatment! I am not a medical professional so I didn’t feel it was appropriate to talk about the side effects of this drug. I just wanted to encourage those who are struggling with acne that they aren’t alone and their are doctors out there that can and are willing to help!

  5. Emily S February 6, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

    Have struggled with breakouts since I was a teen and STILL struggle now in my mid-30s. When I was a teen a dermatologist recommended Acutane and my mother refused (especially after she heard they had to keep a watch on your kidneys while taking it). I am grateful she did – I understand many take it without side effects but I have close friends who now have gut issues that doctors have said are directly related to taking Acutane as teens. I would just definitely advise you to do your research and think hard before taking anything like this. Also, I used Proactiv with some good results as a teen and young 20s and have switched now to Rodan & Fields (promise I don’t sell this for a living) because it is said to treat acne but also helps with our older skin woes (age spots, wrinkles, etc) and I have had a LOT of success with it. I think as frustrating as it is I also made the decision to stop buying the million different products and masks and treatments and concentrate on also remembering to moisturize (even though all I wanted to do was dry those zits out) and use SPF. Clean out your cabinets of all the junk, go see a dermatologist and try a new regime. Sometimes you have to stop the self treatment.

  6. Meagan February 6, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

    I am jealous you found a solution!! I have struggled with progressively worsening acne since I turned 20. At this point my skin is so horrible I can’t even cover it well with makeup. After doing 8 months on Accutane (2 months longer than the “normal” regimen), my dermatologist basically said “this was my last line of defense – I have never had this not work for someone.” I only ever experience any degree of relief when pregnant – but once my cycles return post-pregnancy it returns with a vengeance. It is awful!!!

  7. Amy February 8, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    Like Megan said, a lot of people have had success with the Rodan + Fields Unblemish line. Unlike her, I do sell it, but I REALLY a believe in the product, and the company backs it 100% with a 60-day, empty-bottle, money-back guarantee. It’s less drying to adult skin but still can be used on pre-teen & teen skin too. It wouldn’t hurt for you to check it out, because you are right, it IS a silent struggle. Your confidence will dramatically increase when you see it turn around without having to take potentially dangerous medications. Thanks for being brave enough to share your story & let me know if you have any questions!

  8. Kathleen White February 8, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    Enjoyed your blog post, thanks! My company does a great line in skincare products, and we are seeing some amazing success stories with these. I would be happy to share incredible before and after photos of these with anyone who would like to contact me directly at [email protected].

  9. Courtney February 9, 2015 at 6:27 am #

    Thanks for sharing! I still have acne like a teenager at 32. The best thing that has worked for me so far is the Rodan & Fields Unblemish skincare line. I feel more comfortable using that than taking perscription meds. Mine is not 100% gone, but is significantly better. Praise the Lord.

  10. caree February 9, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    I’ve struggled with acne/roseaca flare-ups/very oily skin ever since my teens- especially when I moved from a dry cold climate to a hot humid one. I was on an anti-inflammatory steroid and a cream that I can’t remember the name now. I also have used acne washes with either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, with little to no success. Most of these things just inflamed my skin more and made me even more sensitive to the sun. Years later when I got pregnant, my dermatologist advised me to stop using the cleansers with either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, as they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. I switched to a clear glycerin soap. I will say that I think that did help my skin break out less and be less inflamed, but maybe pregnancy had something to do with it.

    I will say the best thing I’ve done to improve my skin is look at my diet; once I reduced dairy (I could drink a gallon in a couple days all by myself back in the day) and went low carb (to lose post baby weight), I noticed my skin greatly improved. I had a secret shame of having some cystic bacne that I didn’t even want my husband to know about- and now I have none. My advice- look at your diet and try different things and see if that’s the culprit.

  11. Margaret November 18, 2017 at 11:15 am #

    Dermalmd blemish serum Has worked TREMENDOUSLY for my problem skin that I’ve suffered ALL my adult life…after hundreds of different over the counter and prescribed medications…I’ve FINALLY found something so effective!!! Won’t ever stop purchasing…the creators of this product are GENIUS!!! A must have…

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