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adult acneWhy do women suffer with adult acne?  Sorry to say it, but it is because of hormonal fluctuations.  Women may have hormonal fluctuations every seven years and with each seven year shift, it brings on new skin care challenges.

  • Adult acne may be caused by genetic predisposition and nothing can be done to change one’s genetics.  Acne can be controlled but not cured.  Predisposition may result in cells accumulating on the inside of the follicle to clog pores and on the outside an oily coating over the cells may cause more buildup.  This may result in open or closed comedones and acne lesions.  Adults may have fewer open comedones than teens, but breakouts may occur more frequent and constant.  No one wants to contend with acne in their adult life which can bring on a vicious cycle of stressing over it and stress is a big culprit.
  • During a menstrual cycle (even as one goes into peri-menopause or in the early years of menopause) there is a decrease of female hormone in the bloodstream and an increase of the male hormone, androgen. An increase of androgen cause the sebaceous glands to produce more oil.  When this happens, follicles clog and create inflammation in the skin.
  • In my clients that experience adult acne, I see more of it occurring on the chin and jaw area. This is a weak area for women who are going through hormonal fluctuations and this is why more breakouts appear there.  The breakouts may be very sore due to inflammation and an increase of sebum.
  • Another area of concern is around the mouth. Many are affected with perioral dermatitis which is a form of acne that appear as clusters of papules in the mouth and chin area.  Perioral dermatitis may not always be resolved with skin care treatments and may need to be treated with prescribed antibiotics.
  • Women, at any age, want to look their best all the time, which is why they wear makeup. Heavy makeup or comedogenic makeup can exacerbate the problem.  Switch to a lightweight makeup.  Also if you exercise, remove makeup before working out and cleanse the skin after a workout session to remove sweat and salts from the skin.  Read ingredients of makeup and cleansing products to make sure they are fragrance-free and do not over stimulating the skin due to high pH levels.
  • This cannot be said enough but, DO NOT PICK. Acne lesions are unsightly and painful, but constant picking can spread P. acnes bacteria to other areas of the face (over and beneath the skin).  It can also result in hyperpigmentation and scarring.
  • Is your diet part of the problem? Watch your diet to see if certain foods may be causing breakouts like junk food, processed foods and dairy products.  If you suspect that your diet may be part of the problem, eliminate those food items from your diet for six weeks to see if that helps.

What can be done to help?  Here are some recommendations:

  • Gently exfoliate (no harsh scrubs). Also apply serums that contain glycolic acid, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
  • Keep the skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water and reduce the intake of sugary drinks. Use serums for hydration and a lightweight sunscreen.
  • Use a topical spot treatment when needed.
  • Use products that are water-based and non-comedogenic.
  • Salicylic peels are great for helping to keep the pores from clogging and it keeps excess cells from building up on the skin.
  • Cleanse the skin twice daily with a cleanser that foams, especially if you wear makeup. Cleanse with warm to tepid water, never hot water.  Hot water over strips the skin leaving it more vulnerable.
  • See a skin care therapist on a regular basis. Follow the regime they customize for you.  They can perform necessary extractions that will not harm the skin, perform detox treatments and apply masks that may calm inflammation.

To read more on this topic, check out the following reference:

Lees, M. (2015). Skin Inc., “25 facts about adult acne”.  Retrieved January 23, 2015, pp. 58-65.