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Help! I Have Adult Acne

Urgh…pimples. Everyone gets them – not just teenagers!In fact, skin breakouts in adults is common – and on the rise. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that a growing number of adults are getting acne in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.

Here’s what you can do about adult acne…

What is Adult Acne?

Like teenage acne, adult acne is a skin complaint characterised by pustules (pimples), blackheads and whiteheads, a result of skin pores becoming clogged with dead skin cells, dirt and excess oil produced by the sebaceous glands. Bacteria builds up behind the clogged pores, causing them to become inflamed and leading to acne cysts (breakouts).

What’s the Difference Between Adult Acne and Teenage Acne?

There are some crucial differences between acne in adults and acne in teenagers. Whilst teenage skin is oily, contributing to acne, adults experience breakouts despite skin being drier. Adult acne:

  • Most often occurs on the chin and jawbone and not in the so-called T-Zone (chin, nose and forehead)
  • Is triggered and made worse by stress
  • Can be accompanied by a skin condition called rosacea

What Causes Adult Acne?

In adult women, acne may be due to hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. In some cases, adult acne in women is a sign of another, underlying hormonal disorder, like polycystic ovarian syndrome. In men, adult acne is thought to be a result of the modern lifestyle – too much stress, poor eating habits and not enough exercise.

How to Treat Adult Acne

Left untreated, acne can lead to low self-esteem and depression. However, getting the correct treatment is important. Since adult skin is drier than teenage skin, common over-the-counter acne products tend not to work on adult skin, irritating it and exacerbating the problem. This is because many of these products contain benzoyl peroxide, an astringent agent which kills off the bacteria causing acne. Unfortunately, benzoyl peroxide also worsens the signs of ageing on older skins!

Medical Treatments for Adult Acne

Adults with acne should visit a dermatologist who will, depending on the severity of the condition, prescribe:

  • A medicated skin cleanser and cream
  • A topical antibiotic (like clindamycin)
  • An oral antibiotic (like tetracycline)
  • An oral contraceptive (depending on a woman’s age)
  • A blood pressure drug known as spironolactone, which has been shown to be effective in balancing hormones.

Note: Do tell your doctor if you’re pregnant, since some drugsused to treat adult acne (like tetracycline) are contra-indicated in pregnancy.

Cosmetic Treatments for Adult Acne

Skin treatments offered by cosmetic day clinics can also be helpful in treating adult acne. These procedures, which should only ever be carried out by qualified cosmetic surgeons or dermatologists, include:

  • Microdermabrasion – where tiny grains of crystals or diamonds are used to peel off the outermost surface of the skin
  • Chemical Skin Peels–a chemical solution is applied to the skin, which causes the top layers to blister and peel off, revealing new skin underneath
  • Laser Skin Resurfacing–laser light is used to vaporise superficial damaged skin cells to reveal healthier skin beneath
  • Smoothbeam Laser Treatment – a high-intensity laser beam is used to penetrate deep into the skin tissue to deliver therapeutic heat to alter the sebaceous glands.
  • Blue-light therapy–also known as photodynamic therapy, a photosensitising drug (one which is activated by light) is applied topically or administered intravenously and, after an incubation period lasting a few minutes or a few days, a light is applied to the skin tissue to activate the medication.

Spa Treatments for Adult Acne

Regular spa facial treatments can help keep skin blemish-free and give it a healthy glow. A spa facial will thoroughly cleanse, exfoliate and nourish the skin – at the same time, helping you relax and unwind. There are many different sorts of facial treatments including mini-facials, anti-ageing facials, oxygen facials and light facials. Chat to the spa beautician about which one is right for you.

Can Adult Acne Be Prevented?

Some simple lifestyle interventions can help manage adult acne breakouts:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet – include plenty of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol and junk food intake
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Wash your face twice a day, and after exercising
  • Keep your skincare routine simple and gentle
  • Avoid excessive suntanning and sunbeds.

 


Author: South African Spas