How is adult acne different to teen acne?
Acne that appears in adulthood is more likely to be inflammatory, with fewer comedones than teenage acne and lesions predominantly located around the mouth, chin and jaw line. Adult acne is often more persistent and more inflammatory than teenage acne. Spots and lesions tend to hang around far longer than teen spots as the healing process can take days leading into weeks. In addition, adults often have sensitized skin which makes treatment more challenging than the treatment of teens who have more resilient, oily skin. Treatments and products will have to take into consideration all the skin conditions i.e. oily, congested skin that is also sensitized and inflamed.
In order to clear adult acne, it is essential that you treat the cascade of events that lead to acne developing so you can get the acne under control. Its tempting to choose a quick fix but these products and treatments often contain ingredients that are too harsh and will irritate the skin which will make the acne more difficult to clear long term.
Why does acne occur?
Acne is a genetic skin condition, if acne runs in the families of both parents, three out of four children may suffer from it.
If you are getting acne as an adult, it is likely to be one or more of the following reasons:
Fluctuating hormone levels: An imbalance can lead to breakouts.
Women often experience fluctuating hormones around their periods, during pregnancy, peri-menopause and menopause or after discontinuing or starting birth control pills.
Chronic Stress: In response of our stress, our bodies produce more androgens which stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin and this leads to acne. If you are under constant stress, this explains your adult acne.
Hair and Skincare products: I would suggest checking the labels on your skincare and hair care products to ensure that you see the following:
- Non comedongenic, non acnegenic, oil free, won’t clog pores
- Try to ensure that your cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen contain one of these terms as these products are least likely to cause acne.
Medication side effect: Acne is a side effect of some medicines. If you suspect that a medicine is triggering your acne or making it worse, talk to your doctor who prescribed it to check if acne is a possible side effect.
Undiagnosed medical condition: Sometimes, acne is a sign of an underlying medical condition. Once the medical condition is diagnosed and treated, the acne often clears.
Why is adult acne on the rise?
The primary cause of adult acne is chronic stress. We all know that acute stress can cause a breakout from time to time but chronic, continued stress increases hormone levels which leads to an increase in hormone production.
One reason that adult acne is on the rise is the additional responsibilities that women generally now have to balance both professional and personal responsibilities in a way that is unique to this generation of women. It is very common for women to work outside the home to contribute to the family income whilst maintaining a home. Combine workplace stress with household responsibilities, cosmetics that contain known skin irritants and monthly hormone fluctuations and this sets the stage for acne development. Other contributory factors are environmental factors such as pollution or diet.
Adult acne can be aggravated by internal and external factors. Internally, when adults are frustrated by the signs of acne on their skin, it causes additional stress which leads to a continued increase in excess activity of the sebaceous glands and in turn leads to the continued cycle of breakouts. Further, if you pick or squeeze breakouts, you spread the bacteria causing even more breakouts.