Adult Acne : Why It Occurs And How To Get Rid Of It.
Growing up, many of us dream of owning our own house, having kids, money to burn and having flawless skin – after all adults don’t suffer from Acne do they?
The facts are that acne can hit anybody at any age. Sure its a problem that mainly affects the young, especially during our teenage years at a time when our hormones are running riot.
Sadly that doesn’t mean that spots and blemishes disappear on our 20th birthday.
We spoke to a number of leading dermatologists on this subject.
Doris Day, a leading professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Centre told us that as many as half of all women will experience acne breakouts at some point in their lives.
50% of these will be in their 20’s and 35% in their 30’s and into their 40’s.
Another expert, Joshua Zeichner of Mount Sinai Hospital New York told us that the number of adult women (and men) experiencing acne during adulthood is on the increase.
He said “It is unclear exactly why this is happening, it could be a combination of stress, hormones and dietary factors.”
He continued, “We do not fully understand why adult women develop acne”, he continued, “we do believe that there are some similarities between adult and teenage acne, pores getting clogged by oil, dead skin cells and bacteria”
Another reason for the onset of adult acne. especially in women is their hormones, in particular the fluctuation that accompanies the menstrual cycle.
As your period approaches, the levels of estrogen dip in the body, leaving your testosterone levels ( yes women have it too) unchecked and free to run rampant through your body.
These androgen hormones have a nasty habit of increasing the skins production of oil, which means more clogged pores and ultimately top unsightly red pimples.
This leads us to another possible cause – the birth control pill.
Many women start on these quite young and tend to stay on them for years. Now while on them its all fine and good, but what happens is that the pill regulates skin oil production and helps to keep acne under control.
The minute we come off the pill, the body is not used to naturally controlling the oil release and goes into an adjustment period where things can get a little out of control for a while.
How Is Adult Acne Different To Teen Acne?
We can sum this up in 3 words – location, location, location.
The pattern and placing of of acne in adults tends to be different in adults as it is in teenagers. They tend to experience breakouts on the cheeks and forehead, while adults tend to experience acne more on their lower jawline, neck and lower face.
Adults tend to experience larger angry looking spots, were as teens can experience blackheads, whiteheads along with cystic bumps across the entire face.
Adults don’t often suffer from body acne, the oil glands on the back and chest tend to reduce production as we get that little bit older, therefore back or chest acne can be a thing of the past for many adults.
The only time that adults can generally experience body acne tends to be when if they work out regularly and they wear tight fitting clothes (spandex, lycra etc) which causes them to sweat heavily.
How To Prevent Adult Acne
While hormone fluctuation can make women more prone to adult acne breakouts, it does actually offer us a few more options for treatment.
Going back to the birth control pill for a minute, its actually quite an effective way to suppress excess oil production.
There is another drug too – called Spironolactone, its commonly used to treat a number of medical conditions including blood pressure, heart and kidney problems, this works to suppress the effects of the oil producing glands.
Experts do say that its one of the most effective ways to reduce problematic adult acne in women.
There is a black side to it however. It does have some recognised side effects, and most certainly do not take it if you are of child bearing age and thinking of starting, or adding to your family, in some cases it can cause birth defects in women of child bearing age.
Whats In Your Fridge?
Your medication isn’t the only thing that could be adding to your acne problems.
Studies have clearly showed us that certain foods, especially those with a high glycemic index play a key role in boosting the effects of oil stimulating androgens.
Packaged foods like white bread, pasta and rice are three main culprits.
Foods that contain hormones, (dairy products are a classic example) are at the top of the list of foods to cut out if acne blights your life.
Milk, butter and cheese are three things that you should reduce, in particular milk which contains a great number of hormones.
Experts actually recommend that anybody prone to acne should cut out milk completely, there are many tasty alternatives, almond, cashew, coconut and soya milk are just 4 options.
Stress is a major cause of acne, when we get stressed, our body releases a hormone called Cortisol.
This is similar to testosterone in that it triggers the increase release of excess oil in the skin which traps dirt, bacteria and contributes to the skins redness.
If your acne starts to play up, have good think about whats going on in your life and if there is anything worrying you, try and sort the problem, unload all that stress, and your skin will thank you for it.
Be Careful What You Use To Treat
If you had acne as a teenager and found a treatment that worked, don’t be too quick to get back on it.
Just because it worked at high school doesn’t mean that it will work in adulthood. Many teenage treatments are simply too harsh for the older skin.
As skin starts to age it becomes more prone to drying out, redness, flaking and inflammation.
Women with darker skin can also be prone to a problem called PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation) which means that dark spots can appear after treatments with some acne preparations.
What To Use To Treat Adult Acne
There are some treatments that are perfect for adult skin, expert Joshua Zeichner told us that topical retinoids are particularly good in older women as they work to both reduce acne and improve collagen which can address other issues such as fine lines and wrinkles.
The good thing about Retinoids is that they can be used in conjunction with other treatments, moisturisers and serums.
If you have irritation prone skin, then you could look for a product containing dapsone which is an excellent treatment for both hormonal and non hormonal acne.
Has Acne later in life effected you? Please share your experiences using the comment box below
Hi There, My name Is Donna, I am 61 years young, I have daughter of 36, and live in Hertfordshire, just north of London.
A very big welcome to Green Geranium.
I am passionate about skincare, I have a key interest in products and routines that help look after and care for slightly older skin.
As I have got that little bit older myself, and largely based on my own experiences, my main aim has been trying to answer skincare questions and problems faced by women of a certain age.
I love to personally try and review various skin care products, in particular those that are suitable for women aged 40 and over, in an industry that tends to favour the young, I believe that a woman can look amazing at any age.
My mission is to get everything together on this website to help you create or improve your own skincare regime, and hopefully allow you to achieve the flawless skin that we all desire.
I have done my very best to make sure that the articles and product reviews are clear and concise, to help you find the right product for your skin type and skincare routine.
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Thanks Donna x