Causes Of and Treatment For Adult Acne

Acne can be an annoying skin condition to deal with—though let's face it, for many of us, it's far worse than annoying as it leaves us to deal with scarring and more. We may feel even more frustrated if this skin condition cleared up after puberty, only to later reappear in our 20s, 30s, or 40s. How is that even possible? And what can be done?

What Causes Adult Acne?

Researchers have found adult acne is strikingly different from adolescent acne. The distinctions range from the ways the blemishes manifest to why they're happening in the first place. So the good news is, it's not the same acne you had as a teen. The bad news is...yeah, if you have adult acne, you're dealing with something very different. There are even different types of pimples to contend with. But let's start with causes because even those are different. For example, more adults with acne smoke than adolescents with the same skin condition. 

In addition to smoking, our genes are among the causes of adult acne. But don't lose hope. Genetic causes don't mean that it's got to be this way forever. Other causes include clogged pores, bacteria on the skin, an overproduction of oil and skin inflammation. 

Additional factors that may contribute to or cause adult acne include: 

  • Hormones, including menstrual cycles, which may make the skin produce excess oil. 
  • Certain drugs, such as lithium, anabolic steroids and corticosteroids.
  • Pore-clogging products, such as hair conditioners, skin creams, and makeup.
  • Diet triggers, such as dairy foods and high glycemic foods.
  • Physical and/or emotional stress, such as lack of sleep or worries about work.
  • Contact irritation from using a razor on dry skin or choosing strong skin cleansers.

If you are concerned that your medication may contribute to your acne, be sure to talk to your doctor before changing your dosage or stopping any medication. 

Treatment for Adult Acne

Adult acne treatments range from home remedies that tackle the root causes such as those listed above to various over-the-counter (OTC) acne products to medications prescribed by a dermatologist. 

Home remedies include:

  • Aloe vera used on the skin in place of a cleanser.
  • Green tea extract taken as a supplement.
  • Tea tree oil applied in gel form on acne lesions.
  • Zinc used either in topical form or as a supplement.
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes.

OTC adult acne products include:

  • Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) products that act as skin exfoliants to remove dead skin cells.
  • Retinal products
  • Benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid

Prescription medications for adult acne may include:

  • Antibiotics.
  • Retin-A (the prescription strength of retinal).
  • Sulfur.
  • Birth control pills that contain synthetic hormones may help reduce oil secretion for some women.

We may feel tempted to apply and swallow every home remedy at once, along with buying up all the OTC products. But the key to successful treatment of adult acne is to choose one likely remedy and to give it a chance to work. Experiment with just one product at a time. Of course, a dermatologist is likely to simplify the process and help you get to the root cause faster, so you may want to start there. But in the meantime, we hope these ideas help.

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8/13/2020 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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