Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team
If you’re in your late teens or early twenties, you may be looking forward to that magical moment when your acne suddenly vanishes. But… when is that moment? When does acne stop showing up to the party uninvited?
The hormone fluctuations that you experience in your teenage years are often what is to blame for your teenage acne. So it stands to reason that when you get into your twenties and your hormones start to level out, your acne will magically go away. But that’s not always the case.
Let’s dive into what hormonal acne is, how long it will hang around, and how you can treat it.
What is Hormonal Acne?
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when follicles in the skin become clogged with oil (sebum), dead skin cells, and often bacteria. It can cause skin problems such as pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads.
When your hormones are changing (like they do during puberty and with your monthly period), it often results in an overproduction of sebum (oil), which then triggers acne breakouts. Hormonal acne is when your hormones cause acne.
Other Things that Might Cause Acne
If your acne continues to show up when your hormones are stable, it’s possible that your pimples are not hormonal at all (meaning they aren’t going to go away just because you’re getting older).
Acne can be caused by several factors, including PCOS, genetics, anxiety, stress, and certain skincare products.
At What Age Does Acne Go Away?
When does acne stop? It’s common for hormonal teenage acne to start between the ages of 10 and 13 and to last until you’re in your early twenties.
However, it can also stick around. Depending on your family’s history and a few other factors, you may experience hormonal acne throughout your adult life.
Due to the intricate hormonal makeup within female bodies, they’re more likely to have adult acne than men 22% women vs. 5% of men. These breakouts are often triggered by menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and when people stop hormonal birth control.
How Long Does it Take for a Pimple to Form?
Pimples can take anywhere between 1-2 weeks to fully develop and form. It may seem that they form overnight, but in reality, it’s a very long process that involves days of development.
What’s the Life Cycle of a Pimple?
Acne starts as microscopic bumps called micro comedones that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Oil glands in the skin are stimulated by hormones and they enlarge and get overactive and pump out excess oil. Many infected blemishes come from preexisting whiteheads or pimples that are already in the area within the pores. Bacteria can get stuck behind the blockage and multiply and then the skin becomes inflamed with bacteria, inflammatory cells, and oil.
How Long Does it Take for a Pimple to Go Away?
Most pimples take 1-2 weeks to go away on their own. Some can take up to 6 weeks. Although they can’t be cured overnight, they can be treated with many different methods that have been proven to work such as prescription acne treatments like tretinoin gel and topical antibiotics like clindamycin lotion.
What is the Best Acne Treatment?
Whether or not your acne will go away as you age, it’s important to treat your breakouts so that they don’t leave long-lasting damage on your skin. Let’s go over some of the characteristics that you should look for when choosing a product.
The best acne treatments are those that:
- Decrease oil production
- Make the pores smaller
- Make the cells less sticky
- Drain the acne lesion (comedolytic)
- Decrease the effect of hormones
- Kill the bacteria
According to the Adolescent Medicine specialist and our co-founder Dr. Sophia Yen and other skin experts, the first-line treatment for all acne should be a product containing a retinoid (like topical tretinoin, adapalene, etc) because retinoids offer all of the benefits listed above except the last two.
For over-the-counter treatment, look for products that contain benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acid, or salicylic acid as active ingredients.
Usually, it takes 8-12 weeks of product use to see the full effect.
Most people would benefit from help from a doctor. After a doctor reviews your acne, you may be prescribed:
- A prescription-grade acne treatment/medication such as tretinoin, topical antibiotics, and more.
- Cortisone shots are reserved for severe lesions and have to be done in person.
Get the Best Acne Treatment Delivered To Your Mailbox
Pandia Health offers prescription treatment for acne for as little as $0 with insurance or $30 per month without insurance. (A doctor’s consultation is required and costs $35.)
How to Treat Acne at Home
While medical treatments can usually treat acne and prevent further breakouts, there are some other ways you can prevent acne without leaving your house. Other great ways to reduce and prevent your acne are to:
- Avoid touching your face
- Apply warm compresses to big acne lesions
- Use acne spot treatment creams (benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid).
- Wash your face and other acne-affected skin regularly (1-2 times a day maximum). However, if you wash too much, it can cause more oil to be made, so it’s important to find a balance.
- Change your diet (but only if you notice a specific food makes it worse)
How Can Pandia Health Help?
Anything a doctor prescribes is better than anything you can get over the counter. Acne is a journey, so you’ll want guidance along the way. Our board-certified expert doctors at Pandia Health can prescribe a range of acne treatments based on what’s best for you and your skin. Plus you get free delivery straight to your mailbox with automatic refills and free goodies!
If you have acne and would like to get on the road to clearer skin, get started with Pandia Health today!
Everyone who has acne has a different experience. As such, the treatment you receive should be tailored to your unique self. It’s important to remember that acne is extremely common. Most people (like 85% or more) will experience it at one point in their lives and may even still be going through it.
While acne can’t be cured overnight, it can be managed with a combination of the right treatments and medication. If needed, you can have a doctor prescribe more effective acne treatments like tretinoin and topical antibiotics.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article intend to inform and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Pandia Health, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.