So you’re well out of your taxing teenage years; no more mood swings, growing pains, or unsightly spots cropping up at the most inconvenient moments. Well, for the most part, the tricky tribulations associated with our teens usually disappear by themselves as if by magic, but for some people, the zits don’t get the memo about you entering fully-fledged adulthood.
The bottom line is that adult acne happens. And while the breakouts may not be as beastly as you recall during your pubescent years standing in front of your bathroom mirror, the psychological effects can be equally as debilitating, making a seemingly simple morning run to the store without your makeup a gut-wrenching task.
Plenty of adults, particularly women, continue to suffer from breakouts well into their 20s, 30s, 40s, and even 50s. In fact, the condition is on the rise today, with around 25% of acne starting in adulthood. So, as miserable as this topic may be, the silver lining is that adult acne is actually a lot more common than you may have thought. After all, misery loves company.
While teenage acne is largely triggered by a surge in the male hormone, testosterone, and oil glands going into overdrive, adult acne can be attributed to a completely different combination of issues. Allow us to explain what they are.
Blame it on the genes. There are certain hereditary factors that predispose some of us to acne more than others, such as oily skin, slow cell turnover, and sticky cells. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to change our DNA, but thankfully, there’s a bunch of skin saviors at your disposal to banish those unwarranted breakouts in the form of both ordinary over-the-counter and more prestigious prescription treatments.
Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, retinol, and salicylic acid should be bathroom cabinet staples if you’re prone to problematic skin to help kill bacteria, shed dead skin cells, and unclog pores. But if your eruptions are more persistent, it may be a good idea to visit a dermatologist who will be able to diagnose the underlying cause and offer you more intense treatments like prescription retinoid, chemical peels, steroid injections, or antibiotics.
Hormones are the notorious culprits behind teenage acne, but more often than not, many people mistakenly assume that once we wave goodbye to our teens we’re also seeing the back of those foul flare-ups. However, the bad news is that hormonal fluctuations can continue to occur throughout our lives, especially for women who go through their monthly periods, pregnancy, and menopause – all these things can cause acne to rear its ugly head again.
The main difference is that teenage acne usually shows up in clusters around the cheeks and forehead, while adult acne typically travels south to set up shop around the chin, jawline, and chest, albeit in fewer numbers but in a much bigger size.
Usually, hormonal birth control can help restrain existing breakouts and prevent future ones. Due to the influx of estrogen and progestin, taking the combined pill can decrease the testosterone present in the blood, which in turn, inhibits oil secretion. Other effective methods include hormone-therapy drugs, such as spironolactone, which specifically block androgen receptors that trigger a flare-up.
When it comes to breakouts, stress doesn’t care how old you are; it’ll trigger a flare-up at any age, which is why it is super-important to try to keep those ever-mounting strains, pressures, and anxieties of life under control.
Try to recognize issues that induce stress and think about how you can employ mindfulness techniques to help reduce it. Methods like focused breathing, meditation, yoga, and going for walks outdoors are all great ways to slash your stress levels.
Bacteria is another famous felon that, when allowed to fester on the skin, can cause major disruption. Anytime we do any activity that causes us to sweat, whether it be a strenuous gym session or a brisk walk, without showering straight after (or, at the very least, using a cleansing wipe), we are essentially stewing in our own sweat and creating the perfect environment for pimple-causing bacteria to run wild. So it pretty much goes without saying: always shower after any exercise to help curb your adult acne.
The foods we eat can be a major contributor to our furious flare-ups, which is why we should pay particular attention to cutting any kind of inflammatory, processed foods out of our diet. Things like dairy and sugar are the key culprits, but even gluten is known to cause pimples, redness, and inflammation. Instead, focus on upping your intake of colorful fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, fatty fish, whole grains, and nuts and seeds, and above all, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
We hate to break it to you, but for some people, acne doesn’t ever really go away. While you may have certain promising periods where your skin is looking and feeling its best, unfortunately, any acne sufferer will certainly tell you how short-lived these euphoric moments are; before you know it, the blemishes are back and looking angrier than ever.
So while for the most part (we’re sorry to say), acne is here to stay, it doesn’t mean that you have to suffer in silence. Simple lifestyle changes can help, in addition to several treatment plans that can be individualized to keep your acne under control, no matter your age.