One of the biggest surprises for many of our adult clientele is that they have acne at age 35, 40 or even 50-years old and beyond. It is especially disheartening if you suffered from acne as an adolescent and teen because it brings back all the same feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment or low self-esteem that it did back then. Not to worry!
Adult acne is actually quite common and is typically the result of hormonal changes. Adults also experience acne as the result of certain medications or lifestyle changes.
The good news is that adult acne can be prevented, minimized and treated. You probably aren’t surprised to learn that the same treatments that worked when you were younger might not be effective for your skin now, and self-prescribed treatments may actually make your adult acne worse.
Why Do I Have Acne as an Adult?
There are many reasons you may be experiencing acne in your adult years. Some of the most common include:
A genetic tendency towards acne
If family members have acne, or if you had it as a teen, you’re more likely to develop it as an adult because your pores, oil production, sensitivity to particular bacteria and/or hormone fluctuations, allergens, etc., are genetically linked as well.
Higher androgen levels
Male hormones (androgens) are a trigger for oil production. This is why skin care routines are important for men as well as women, and why women may notice acne breakouts at certain points during their menstrual cycle when estrogen dips, or later on when they go through perimenopause or menopause.
Hormone imbalance or fluctuations can cause adult acne
Some of us are more susceptible to hormone fluctuations or imbalance than others, and anytime certain hormones decline or increase, our bodies may show it in the form of an acne eruption. Chins are typically the place you’ll display these – although athletes may also suffer from chin acne as a result of chin straps found on helmets and protective gear. You may also experience acne on your back and/or chest.
You’re using the wrong beauty products and/or makeup for your skin
Since acne is caused when bacteria and oil clog pores (hair follicles), the wrong beauty products or makeup products can cause acne. This is why we always recommend bringing your skin and makeup products with you to your first appointment with an aesthetician so we can determine whether your products – rather than other factors – are the main offenders.
An undiagnosed medical condition
Every once in a while, acne is a sign that something else is going on. Acne may be a symptom of one of the following medical conditions.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Adrenal issues
- Over or under production of certain sex hormones, including testosterone
- Chronic stress
If one of these is the culprit, treatment of the condition may clear it up:
Birth control pills or pregnancy
Both hormonal based birth control pills or contraceptive devices, as well as pregnancy, can cause acne. If you use hormonal birth control and are prone to acne, your healthcare provider can work with you on choosing the best products for your skin. Otherwise, you might consider using a copper IUD, which is very effective and doesn’t contain hormones. If you’re pregnant, work with an aesthetician to find the best beauty products and skin care routine to soothe– rather than exacerbate – your flare-ups.
Your diet exacerbates inflammation
While there is no direct link between specific food and acne per se, there are certainly links between those with healthy diets and reduced acne episodes. More than specific foods, this may be a holistic effect. Certain ingredients – saturated fats, high salts, processed sugars, and carbs – exacerbate inflammation. Since acne is an inflammatory response, the more you can do to eat anti-inflammatory foods, the fewer eruptions you’ll have and the less intense or uncomfortable they will be.
Your lifestyle and environment
It’s true that lifestyle and health can play a role in acne. Typically, though, we find it’s more of a lifestyle and/or environmental issue – in combination with the aforementioned genetic tendency towards acne. Do you shower after you exercise? Do you workout with your makeup on? Do you work around grease or chemicals that might exacerbate the situation? Any or all of these factors have an impact on skin health. We’ll discuss your lifestyle and daily habits/routines to search for underlying factors that may cause or exacerbate acne breakouts.
Effective Treatments for Adult Acne
There are multiple options for treating adult acne. We always recommend starting with the most gentle and natural acne treatment and prevention options and then working your way up if needed.
Schedule a consultation with a licensed aesthetician
Visit a local, licensed aesthetician, like us at Skin Deep, who specializes in clinical skin care treatments and a holistic approach to acne. Bring all of your health and beauty care products with you, as well as a list of any medications you’re taking. We’ll work with you to create a customized skincare routine and lifestyle that minimizes inflammation and prevents flare-ups.