Adult onset acne is basically not very different than other types of acne. Adult acne is that acne which occurs when we become adults, in our 20’d, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. It is caused by an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. This substance is known as sebum. The sebum because it is sticky and oily can attract bacteria causing inflammation. Many adults however can experience breakouts and pimples as a direct result of an imbalance in the hormones in our bodies.
In the body there are male and female hormones. Male hormones are androgens and female hormones are estrogens. Because there can be an overproduction of the male hormones or androgens at times this imbalance can occur. For women it can occur during pregnancy, pre-menopause or the period right before menopause, or during menopause itself.
There are also many medications that adults may be taking that can cause acne, such as corticosteroids. So in a nutshell possible causes could be hormones, stress, cosmetics, medications and some bacteria. And for women pre-menstrual , menopause and peri-menopausal hormonal changes.
Zits aren’t just for Teenagers
Adult acne is different than the pimples and blackheads that occur during our teen years except that the hormonal changes which cause adult onset acne differ than the changes occurring in teenagers.
In teenagers the new production of sebum by oil glands is generally to blame for the increase in zits. Puberty matures the oil glands and they begin secreting oil for the first time and the skin needs to adjust and facial cleansing needs to occur more often. It tends to be on oily skin and consist of blackheads and whiteheads.
However adult acne more often occurs on the face, along the jaw line and neck, and is usually accompanied by dryer or combination skin. It tends to consist of red bumps or cysts that seem to last longer and can cause more scarring because the skin doesn’t heal as quickly. And in adult acne a close correlation to the fluctuation of hormones can be at the root.
Types of Acne
Inflammatory acne can cause disfiguring deep cysts that require prescription drugs or surgery. This type of acne is where whiteheads become inflamed and red pimples and pustules develop, which lead to pitting scars of the face, back, neck and chest.
Non-inflammatory acne is the most common form of acne where a few whiteheads and blackheads appear sporadically on the face. This type of acne can be treated with topical medications such as retinoids or antibiotics. In general, this type of acne can be treated at home without ever stepping foot into a dermatologists office.
Adult Acne Symptoms
The symptoms of adult acne are pimples that occur more frequently around the jaw and neck in combination with dry or combination skin. There may be a correlation to hormonal fluctuations, especially in women. The acne gets worse near the start of the menstrual cycle or worse near menopause. Over-active hormones can cause the glands in the body to produce excess sebum, an oily substance that clogs pores and attracts bacteria. Bacteria can lead to inflammation of the skin and the classic blackheads and whitehead pimples.
Women are at additional risk of acne due to pregnancy, menopause and premenstrual conditions. All of these can disrupt the body and stimulate overproduction of hormones and sebum.
Possible Causes of Adult Acne Breakouts
To reiterate, adult acne can be caused due to fluctuating hormones but there are also several other things that can be at the root of your struggles with acne.
- Skin Care Products – switching facial skin care products too often or too many times can cause the skin to become irritated because the skin has to constantly adjust to different chemicals.
- Make-up Remover – make up remover is critical for preventing and stopping adult acne. Just because you are wearing mineral based make up or maybe none at all, doesn’t mean your skin shouldn’t be washed.
- Hair Care Products – they are placed on the hair right near the face and sometimes can block in our oil or they can cause bacteria to form causing acne
- Facial Hair Removal – when we remove hair from the face it can irritate the hair follicles which create space for bacteria to dive deep into the pores and cause acne.
- Diet – it has been proven that diets high in sugars, and also refined carbohydrates can cause breakouts, therefore stick to items that are low on the glycemic index to help your skin
- Traveling – environmental changes such as humidity, chemicals in the water and time changes can stress the body and also your skin cells causing breakouts
- Sunscreen – many sun screen products contain products like zinc oxide and the like which keep the sun out, but they create a barrier and can inhibit the skin’s breathing capacity trapping dirt and oil in and causing adult acne.
- Stress – stress in the body leads to hormonal changes that can trigger the release of oil into the skin causing more breakouts
- Cell phones – cell phones are in our purses, they are laying around on counter tops and everywhere else we places them, often times without being cleaned. Then we place them right up to our faces and chat away. This activity can cause bacteria to be placed onto the skin and dive into our pores causing acne.
- Dry Skin – as strange as it sounds, the skin, like our bodies need a certain amount of oil. If the skin is too dry it will trigger the body to produce more and more oil causing even more breakouts. The key is gentle washing to balance the skin.
Methods for Treating Adult Acne
Adult acne can be difficult to treat because a lot of the products that are on the market today are targeted toward teens and their skin types which is a bad choice for adult skin. Adult skin tends to be drier and more sensitive and the teenage acne products will only make the adult skin drier. So it is critical to choose the right cleansers.
Choose a cleanser that is gentle and balancing such as Cetaphil or Aquanil. Also do not scrub your skin too much as it can damage and irritate sensitive skin. Skin lotions can contain a lot of pore clogging chemicals so select those that contain retinol which can clean the pores and help fade old scars from acne, fine wrinkles. It is also wise to select products with glycolic acids and salicylic acid because they too can prevent skin discoloration.
Treating Acne with Medications
If you decide to see your physician about your acne they may suggest some topical antibiotics to help the bacteria on your skin such as topical erythromycin, clindamycin and even an oral antibiotic tetracycline. A lot of times a doctor may place you on oral contraceptives to balance hormones in your body, but make sure you understand the risks associated with many of these prescription drugs as they were developed for other purposes and their side effect is what treats the acne. There are also some other treatments such as laser and light therapy but they are mainly geared towards treating scarring and can be highly expensive.
5 Natural Treatments for Breakouts
Here are 5 natural treatments for adult acne that can cure acne without any harmful side effects.
- Fruits and vegetables can be used to cure adult acne. Raid your fridge for these easily available natural remedies for acne. Applying lemon cubes on the acne-affected areas works wonders for clearing skin of acne. Applying the lemon juice to the affected area and allowing the skin to absorb it for 15 minutes, wash it off after 15 minutes with lukewarm water.
- Proper hydration is a key to clear skin.
- Many face masks and face packs are available that can be naturally made at home and have great results on acne affected skin. Most of these masks are extremely simple and the ingredients used are easily available.
- Getting oil massages is a great way to boost the circulation of the skin. Oil helps hydrate the skin and massaging acne affected skin with specific oils helps reduce acne and clear the skin. Coconut oil is good for softening skin.
- Proper diet is extremely important for clearing acne.
Alternative Treatments for Adult Onset Acne
Once again there are many alternative treatments to treating acne, changing ones diet always helps, drinking more water, tea tree oil, and also traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture and herbs. One of the most well-known Chinese herbs dong quai or dong gui is excellent at treating acne. But please consult a practitioner of Chinese medicine before using this herb as Chinese medicinals are best used in a formula.
Tips for Preventing Adult Acne
There are several ways to adjust your lifestyle that can help alleviate your adult acne and bring you clear skin once again.
- One of the most important is to try to reduce your daily levels of stress.
- Try your best to be in a pollution-free environment at all times. Wash your face often with mild, moisturizing cleansers to remove skin-irritating pollutants.
- In treating your acne, avoid using strong gels and abrasive cleansing pads. Use oil-free, comedogenic lotions and sunscreens which will be less prone to clog your pores and lead to acne.
- Use products with salicylic and glycolic acids to help kill the bacteria that cause acne and skin inflammation.
- The easiest and most effective way to prevent adult acne is to wash the face and affected areas twice a day everyday.
Remember that treating acne is going to take time. You’re very likely going to feel like you are going through puberty all over again. Don’t worry, this is normal. No matter which treatment method you choose to use to battle your breakouts, you are going to have to give it time to work. This could be days, weeks or even months. The trick is to be persistent and not just wait around hoping that the pimples will clear themselves.
Acne, it was supposed to go away after our teenage years but yet it persists. Here some of us are in our twenties, thirties and even forties and fifties with this unsightly acne covering our face and impacting our self-esteem. But what is adult acne and how do we treat it? Acne is the most common skin condition affecting people between the ages of 11 – 30 years old. More than 17 million people struggle with it. Basically it is due to a problem with the functioning of the skin glands that produce oil. These are known as sebaceous...read more