Acne is one of those things we associate with being a teenager. Unfortunately, for many of us it shows back up in our adult years – sometimes worse than before. It’s been estimated that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 4 men between the ages of 25 – 55 battle with adult acne on a regular basis. All too often, people battling adult acne will go to stores and buy whatever acne treatment is available on the shelves. The problem with that, is that almost all of those products are formulated to battle the types of acne that are common in our teens. Adult acne is very different from teenaged acne. Here are a few things you need to know about adult acne:
- Your skin is different now: In our teens, our skin is much thicker than it is when we’re, say, in our mid thirties. The medications used in most over the counter acne treatments is entirely too strong for your more mature, and thinner, skin. This means the treatments you’re using to help your skin may, in fact, further irritate it – making the problem worse.
- Your hormones are still to blame: If you thought you would be done with acne after puberty because your hormones would level out, you were only partially right. While hormones to stabilize after puberty, that doesn’t mean they don’t still fluctuate enough to cause problems with your skin. Pregnancy, menstrual cycles, menopause, reproductive illness, stress, imbalanced diet and your environment can all have an effect on your hormone levels. With all of these factors having a potential affect, it’s no wonder adult acne is so common. If you have a history with reproductive disorders such as endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, low testosterone, etc. you may be more prone to battling with adult acne. In these situations, treating the acne itself is not likely to be successful unless the underlying hormonal problem is successfully managed with medication, lifestyle change, proper diet etc.
- Speaking of your diet: Greasy foods and chocolate do not cause acne. They just don’t. As it turns out, the main culprit for foods that change your hormone levels in a way that leads to acne are refined carbohydrates and sugars. In fact, in small amounts, dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher) can actually be *good* for your complexion!
- It turns out, you can be too clean: Keeping your skin clean and healthy is important, but that doesn’t mean you should be washing your face with harsh products every day. Washing your skin with the wrong products, washing too often, exfoliating too much, etc. can all damage and interfere with your skins natural processes. That interference generally leads to clogged pores. Once those pores clog in a visible way, we call them “blackheads” and that is typically the first step in acne. Blackheads become irritated and inflamed and turn into swollen red pimples. Once those pimples get infected, you are left with the whiteheads that we tend to mentally associate with acne.
- No two people will have the exact same causes: Acne is a very personal thing, in that no two people will have the exact same combination of underlying causes for their particular type of acne – yes, there are different types. Seeing a professional is key to figuring out what is causing your individual acne.
Because there are so many possible causes for your adult acne, it’s important that you begin by discussing it with your primary care physician, who will help you narrow down potential causes and treatments. Contact the office for more information or to make an appointment to discuss your adult acne.