Adult Acne

If you were happy to leave the spotty complexion of adolescence behind, you might be dismayed to have acne return in your adult years. You are not alone-many adults have at least one bout of adult acne. Women are more prone to adult acne than men. In more severe cases, acne is not only found on the face but also may extend to the neck, chest and upper back.

Causes are not always easy to determine, but imbalance with female hormones and birth control pills are definitely culprits, which is why women get adult acne more frequently. Other potential causes are stress and poor quality, skin-clogging cosmetics. Many people have a genetic predisposition to very oily skin and acne, which makes them more susceptible to triggers.

Acne Vulgaris or Acne Rosacea?
While good skin hygiene and a healthy diet help with overall skin health, they have little impact on real acne, also known by the less charming term acne vulgaris. Adults may also get acne rosacea, which is similar in appearance but may warrant a different medical approach. This is why it is important to consult a physician for the appropriate diagnosis of your acne.

Acne vulgaris is caused by overactive oil glands plugging pores, which get infected and inflamed, turning into pimples and cysts. Acne rosacea is more common in adults with fair complexions and, although the exact cause is not understood, it is triggered by anything that increases blood flow to the skin. Hot weather, stress, exercise, alcohol use, spicy foods and hot baths or showers are all triggers.

True acne is more than just oily skin and the occasional flare-up or zit. It is a medical condition and can only be properly treated by a doctor or dermatologist, although adult sufferers can manage their skin condition. The most effective treatment combines medical intervention and effective home management.

Medical Treatment for Adult Acne
While the causes and triggers for adult acne are similar to what a teenager experiences, the treatment may be different. Teenage skin is more resilient and less prone to scarring than thinner, adult skin. Some prescription medications, like Accutane and Sotret, may cause birth defects. Many advanced medications and topicals are available now, from low-estrogen birth control pills to foaming skin creams that deeply penetrate the pores. For that reason, you need to visit a doctor to know all your options.

Managing Adult Acne
In addition to medical treatment, you can try any of the following acne solutions:

  • Use only oil-free, non-comedogenic (non pore-clogging) moisturizers and makeup. Wash your face thoroughly at the end of the day.
  • Using a gentle, pure soap or cleanser for oily skin types twice daily will keep pores clean.
  • Face masks once or twice a week help unclog pores.
  • Mild exfoliation with a scrub or cosmetic pad no more than every other day keeps skin healthy.
  • Some over-the-counter products containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid or retinol may be helpful. But if you are using any over-the-counter acne product at the same time as anything prescribed by your doctor, let your doctor know so you don't have a bad reaction.
  • Do not squeeze pimples yourself as this can spread infection, force impurities deep into the pores and cause scarring.
  • A gentle astringent or oil blotting papers can be used for daytime fresheners.
  • A clean, balanced diet won't hurt, and some studies suggest lack of B vitamins may be responsible for excess skin oil production. Eat plenty of whole grains and legumes or take a supplement.
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