Am I 13 or 30?!  Why Do I Have Adult Acne?

Its frustrating to experience acne as an adult.  Why does this happen?  How can I treat it?  In this blog, I will address your concerns and suggest treatment and prevention for the dreaded adult acne plague.

To understand adult acne, you need to understand acne in general.  Regardless of your age, acne can affect everyone!  Dirt, dead skin cells, and excess sebum (oil) harden and impact your pores. Propionibacteria is a bacteria that lives in your sebaceous (oil) glands.  When impacted in the pores, it multiplies, causing the skin to become acnetic.  Acne can manifest as black heads, white heads or cysts.  Cystic acne is the hardest to treat and the most painful form of acne.  Breakouts become cystic when the infection starts beneath the surface.  Cystic acne lesions rupture beneath the surface and push the blockage further down into the skin.  The healing process for cystic acne is slow and can cause damage with the possibility of scarring.  Because the cysts are full of infection, cleansing and other treatments should be done with caution and care to prevent spreading the infection.

Now that you know what acne is, let’s talk about why your face looks like a 15 year old going through puberty!  The pore-clogging process of acne is the same whether you are 13 or 30.  The difference is where it “pops” up (pun intended).  Teens will experience breakouts on the forehead, nose and cheeks.  Adults experience breakouts on the chin, jawline, and neck.  The difference in where teens and adults breakout is linked to hormonal fluctuations.  As adults, acne can be brought on by stress, diet, lifestyle changes, pregnancy, PMS, menopause, or polycystic ovary syndrome.  When we experience these changes, there is an increase in cortisol (aka stress hormone).  Cortisol is broken down into testosterone.  Testosterone causes the sebaceous glands to over produce sebum.  And thats where the acne starts!  Ugh!

Even though its a pain, adult acne is treatable and preventable!  Phew!  Here are a few things to consider:

1.  First, limit your stress.  Sounds impossible…I know…but start by getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night.  You need those 8 hours to reduce excess cortisol and to allow the skin to regenerate.  Try stress relieving activities daily to calm yourself.  You should also consider a 30 minute a day work out or sex!  These activities reduce excess cortisol, release endorphines, and deliver oxygen to the skin cells.  This makes it hard for acne bacteria to thrive.

2.  Check yourself before you wreck yourself!  Are you experiencing extreme fatigue, low libido, weight gain, depression, mood swings or irritability?  These are just some of the signs of a hormonal imbalance.  If you think you may be having issues with your hormones, make an appointment at Timeless Rx to get your levels checked!  If treatment is necessary, Reba Weymouth, FNP-C, will suggest a plan to get you back on track!

3.  Watch what you are taking in!  High-glycemic-index (GI) carbohydrates raise the blood sugar and insulin levels.  These carbs boost hormones and can cause breakouts.  You can balance your hormones with low-GI foods that won’t cause breakouts.  So, put down the dinner rolls and stick to grains and veggies.  At Timeless Rx, we can help you manage your weight by medical weight loss plans and healthy lifestyle choices.  We give you the tools to achieve a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight with medical or natural options.

4.  Treat & prevent with pharmaceutical grade products.  Using a salicylic acid cleanser will help to dissolve the dirt, impurities, and exfoliate the skin.  You can also use a retinol.  Retinol, Vitamin A derivative, speeds up the cell turn over rate so the pores won’t stay clogged.  As a bonus, retinols also help to smooth fine lines and wrinkles!  Using these products will cause a sensitivity to sunlight, so using an SPF every morning is a must!  Timeless Rx has just what you need!  I can help you with a skin care regimen.  Come by the office for a complementary skin consultation!  Using the wrong products can cause your skin to react negatively!  Only a licensed professional should be prescribing medical grade products.

5.  Leave it to the professionals!  Stop doing your own extractions!  Squeezing and picking can exacerbate the problem!  You can experience post-inflammatory pigmentation and those red spots can hang around for a long time!  Picking or extracting cysts can lead to scarring.  So, hands off!  If you already have post-inflammatory pigmentation, you can use products with salicylic acid and vitamin C to fade marks and speed cell turn over.  If you already have scarring, micro needling may be an option.  Our micro needling treatments induce collagen and help to break up the scar tissue.   

Acne, whether adult or teen, is challenging.   It is the most common skin condition, but the hardest to treat.  Take the time and the steps necessary to prevent it.  This blog has covered the basics and is not a guide to treat it yourself.  If you are experiencing adult acne, especially cystic, you will need the medical advice from your dermatologist for treatment.

I hope this blog was helpful!  Stay tuned for more esthetic related topics!

Your Esthetician,