There is little that can ruin your self-confidence more than a break-out of acne. About 30% of women and 20% of men continue to suffer from break-outs after their teen years. Here’s why, and how to treat the break-outs and scars acne causes.
What’s the difference between adult and teen acne?
Teenage skin is oilier than adult skin, and so tends to get blocked more often. Teenage acne presents as groups of tiny blackheads and whiteheads in the oiliest regions of the face (like the forehead and cheeks), and occasionally on the back and chest. In adults, acne presents as ‘under-the-skin-pimples’, red and swollen nodules on the lower half of the face.
What causes adult acne?
All acne is caused by oil, or ‘sebum’, that is produced by glands below the skin. When the ducts that lead from the glands to the surface of the skin get clogged with oil and dead skin cells it causes blackheads. These can get infected with bacteria causing whiteheads.
This is caused by several things:
•Hormone imbalance can cause an overproduction of sebum. For most people, this hormone imbalance occurs during puberty. But life-changes, like pregnancy and menopause in women, can cause a hormonal imbalance and break-outs.
•Make-up can block the pores and cause a break-out.
•Stress causes an overproduction of cortisol, which stimulates sebum production.
•Smoking also causes break-outs.
Treating adult acne
Most commercially available pharmaceutical treatments for acne are geared towards the oilier and more active skins of teenagers. Teenage skin has suffered less environmental damage than adult skin, making these treatments inappropriate for adults. Treating adult acne can be as simple as adapting behaviours and changing skin-care routines.
Use a gentle cleanser twice a day. Exfoliate once or twice a week. Wash your hands before washing your face, and make sure that you pat your face dry to avoid irritation.
Be conscious of not touching your face during the day. Don’t pop pimples, as damaging pores causes scarring which is longer lasting than acne.
One of the main contributing factors to acne break-outs is stress. Sleep and exercise are natural remedies for stress. During sleep extra blood and oxygen are delivered to the skin helping it heal and increasing the ability of the pores to clear naturally.
•Watch what you eat
Fatty foods don’t cause break-outs directly. But high GI carbohydrates affect blood sugar and insulin levels, possibly boosting testosterone levels and increasing sebum production.
•Creams and lotions
Use an SPF lotion during the day because the sun may irritate the acne further.
Prescription medications, taken either topically or orally, most of which contain an anti-biotic, help fight the bacteria that causes infections. However, because acne is caused by a hormonal imbalance, the first step in treating it is balancing your hormones.
Laser and light treatments can treat scars and help to fight bacteria causing infection. These treatments can be expensive and none of them are a permanent solution. They can be painful, and have not been thoroughly tested.
The most effective solution is usually a combination of treatments recommended and prescribed by a health-care professional. Adult acne might be unsightly but it is treatable and you don’t have to suffer from acne or the scars that result from it.