The number of adults affected by acne may surprise you—a study released at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Annual Meeting found that acne affects over 50 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 29, and over 25 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 49. And at the same meeting it was revealed that women (as opposed to men) are more often burdened by acne. If nothing else, all this information should bring you some comfort that you are not alone in your struggle with adult acne.
Adult acne has the potential to be an issue that follows you from your teenage years, but it may also develop well into your twenties, thirties, forties, and even fifties! Just at the point in your life where you are adding additional steps to combat aging, you may also have to implement an acne routine. There are expert doctors and scientists who are continually researching and putting resources behind finding the most effective remedies—and possibly even the cure. Until the cure is discovered, there are a few very effective methods to try today.
First, it is important to know the reasons for adult acne. Many women find that hormonal changes and fluctuations are the trigger for acne inflammation. Hormonal elevation may be a result of premenstrual changes, pregnancy, or menopause. In these cases, a birth-control routine may help clear up the issues. Acne may also stem from stress or, in some cases, food. If stress and food are triggers, there is not always a clear-cut solution. Stress management through a regular breathing or relaxation practice may help and is always a great addition to your life. To identify foods or ingredients that may trigger acne, an elimination diet may be necessary. A dermatologist or dietician (or a combination of the two) should monitor any food-as-acne-trigger investigation. Regardless, if the acne is stimulated by hormonal changes, stress, food, or a combination of these triggers, a consistent skincare routine that includes exfoliation is critical, and the use of a topical ointment may be necessary.
Debris, oil, and dead skin cells build up and clog pores, resulting in acne. Exfoliation clears skin of build-up, potentially alleviating the chances of clogged pores. Therefore, to prevent breakouts, exfoliation is a necessary step in a skincare routine. In addition to adding exfoliation to your regular skincare routine, outlined in my challenge “Reinvigorate Skin with Exfoliants,” you can add acne products that include ingredients that act as exfoliates. To find the right product, be especially mindful of the ingredients listed. Seek out salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), benzoyl peroxide, and retinoid, or vitamin A derivatives.
Salicylic acid acts as an exfoliating ingredient and helps to unclog pores. Look for this ingredient in topical acne remedies for milder acne. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) have exfoliating properties and also help reduce acne marks and prevent pores from clogging. Benzoyl peroxide, the most common ingredient in acne products due to the fact that it is antibacterial, brings oxygen to the pores and exfoliates in order to essentially stop acne before it starts. To help more severe acne issues, seek retinoid, or vitamin A derivatives. These ingredients help regulate the way that skin grows and sheds.
You will often find a combination of these ingredients in any one topical ointment. Finding the right topical ointment is a delicate balance, especially when targeting multiple skin issues such as aging skin and acne. It is important to figure out what works best for you. Pay attention to how your skin reacts to the ointments, and make a decision accordingly. If your acne does not improve, consult a doctor. Also, women who are pregnant should always consult with a physician before introducing any of these ingredients into their routine.
- Wash your face twice a day. Washing your face more than needed has an adverse effect in trying to achieve great skin, because it strips away your skin’s natural oil. Stick to a consistent routine of washing once in the morning and once at night.
- Hands off. Don’t even think about picking at your skin. As tempting as popping a visible breakout may be, it will only exacerbate the issue, spreading the acne and, most often, causing scars.
- Know yourself. If you are just starting to notice acne breakouts for the first time or for the first time in a long time, be in tune with what is happening with your body. Are you premenstrual? Is it an especially stressful time at work or home? Knowing when, and more importantly why, you are breaking out will help you find the most effective treatment solution.