Thought you were finished with breakouts and blemishes once high school was over? For many, that’s not the case. Acne doesn’t discriminate on the basis of age. As a matter of fact, adult acne affects 25% of men and 50% of women at some point in their adult lives.1
There are many factors that contribute to acne breakouts aside from poor skin care choices. To fully understand the causes of adult acne and available treatment options, you should first identify the type of adult acne you are experiencing.
What Am I Looking At?
Comedone is the scientific name for a whitehead or a blackhead. These pesky skin blemishes pop up when the openings of hair follicles become clogged or blocked by oil secretions, dead skin cells, or bacteria. If the comedone is open at the skin’s surface, the plug in the hair follicle appears as a blackhead, whereas closed comedones result in a slightly raised skin-colored bump, or a whitehead.2
A variety of other inflammatory lesions may also rear their ugly head in the presence of adult acne.
Papules, or small raised bumps that indicate inflammation or infection in the hair follicle, may be red and tender, much like pustules, or pimples, which are red, tender bumps with pus at their tips.2 Nodules are large, solid, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin caused by the buildup of secretions deep within hair follicles.2 Like nodules, cysts occur beneath the skin’s surface and result in pus-filled lumps that can ultimately result in scarring of the skin.
What’s Causing It?
Direct skin contact with greasy or oily substances and, in some cases, cosmetics that are applied directly to the skin may cause an acne breakout.3
Some other factors that may trigger or aggravate an existing case of acne are hormones, medications, stress, diet, and genetics.
After adolescence, hormones in women are heightened 2 to 7 days before a menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, or from the use of oral contraceptives.3 When these hormone levels increase, sebaceous glands enlarge to create more sebum, an oily/waxy substance that can clog pores.4
Certain medications containing corticosteroids, androgens, or lithium have also been linked to acne.4 Despite popular belief, stress does not cause acne, but it can worsen an existing case.3 If you’re experiencing adult acne, you may want to try some stress-relieving exercises like yoga to see if it helps to improve the appearance of your skin.
Studies have also shown that a diet rich in foods that increase blood sugar, such as dairy products and carbohydrate-rich breads, may also trigger acne.4 Although you can change your diet, unfortunately you cannot alter your genetics. A family history of adult acne may indicate you’re more likely to develop this skin condition.
What Should I Do?
As with any skin concern, it is important to consult your skin care provider about available treatment options. But first, identify the type of adult acne that you are experiencing and educate yourself on your condition in order to have an informed discussion with your physician. Then, ask your doctor if the Obagi CLENZIderm M.D.TM System would be a good option for you and your unique skin care needs.
The CLENZIderm M.D. System is a three-step acne treatment with clinically proven ingredients that penetrate deep within the pores and target adult acne at the source for clearer skin in as little as 1 week. Find a physician near you for more information.
1. Adult acne. Acne.org Web site. http://www.acne.org/adult-acne.html. Accessed March 4, 2013.
2. Acne symptoms. Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne/DS00169/DSECTION=symptoms. Accessed March 4, 2013.
3. Acne risk factors. Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne/DS00169/DSECTION=risk-factors. Accessed March 4, 2013.
4. Acne causes. Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne/DS00169/DSECTION=causes. Accessed March 4, 2013.