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Revisiting Puberty? Adult Acne Woes and How to Treat Them

Posted Oct 18 2009 4:22am
Virtually all teenagers at one point or another have pimples or acne breakouts. However, some people never outgrow this skin problem or it revisits them later in life. Adult onset acne can put a damper on your lifestyle such as dating and even business relationships. It is estimated that one-third of women and almost one-fourth of men age 20 years and above experience breakouts. Unfortunately, most acne over-the-counter formulas are geared for the skin of teenagers and young adults.


Probable Causes of Adult Onset Acne

A greasy substance called sebum is the cause of adult acne and it is produced by the sebaceous glands in your skin. When the pores of your skin clog with sebum, the area becomes inflamed due to bacteria. Typically, these sebaceous glands produce less sebum as you age; however, if you are overly sensitive to male hormones (androgens) in your body, breakouts can occur. Imbalance of estrogen can also contribute to acne. Women’s hormonal games with perimenopause, menopause and pregnancy are culprits of adult onset acne as well as certain medications, steroids and even skin cosmetics.

Treating Adult Acne

Natural remedies help with breakouts. Applying tea tree oil topically may seem counterproductive yet it can help. Tea tree oil has anti-bacterial properties so applying it right on your acne breakouts can help kill the inflammatory bacteria. Aloe vera can also be applied topically to acne. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties help soothe acne and reduce its appearance.

Teenagers’ skin is usually oilier than an adult’s and most over the counter medications are formulated for teen skin. However, adults can benefit from a few gentle cleansers. Choose acne cleansers which are devoid of granular or beaded abrasive “scrubbers” which can make acne prone skin much worse.

While it may seem counterintuitive, there are some lotions and creams specially formulated for acne prone skin. Adults should try products that contain retinol in addition to acne medications. The retinol reduces the appearance of fine wrinkles and cleans skin pores to reduce bacteria. Over the counter treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid and salicylic acid can help kill the bacteria that cause acne but it may also cause skin irritations. Therefore, these treatments should be used to spot treat pimples only rather than spread over a large area of skin.

Unfortunately, your genetic history can make your skin impervious to natural or over-the-counter medications. When you have tried everything else to clear up your adult onset acne, prescription medications like topical antibiotics may be your only hope. In addition, oral contraceptives and the antibiotic tetracycline are additional prescriptive measures.

If you have some money in your budget, you might want to consider some high-tech options such as blue light therapy and lasers. While lasers are primarily for reducing acne scarring, blue light therapy works to kill the bacteria in the pores of your skin that cause breakouts.

Skin Care Maintenance

If you must wear make-up, choose hypoallergenic options to reduce the chances of bacteria festering in your skin’s pores. In addition, you need to wash your face daily to clear it of excessive oils – once in the morning after you wake up and once in the evening before bedtime. Avoid irritating your skin by eschewing rough washcloths, hot water and abrasive cleansers.

It may take a combination of acne treatments to clear up your adult skin. With a little patience and experimentation, you will find that right combination

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