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Once you are out of your teenage years, you figure you get to leave the acne back in high school. Unfortunately for many people, it either never leaves or returns after a few glorious years of zitlessness. Soon you find yourself fighting both pimples and wrinkles. About 30% of women and 20% of men between the ages of 20 and 60 are plagued by acne, according to WebMD. So why has your acne returned, and what can you do about it? Here’s the breakdown.
There are a variety of reasons for adult acne. It cane be caused by excess sebum, produced by the sebaceous glands. Sebum, an oily substance, clogs pores and attracts bacteria, which becomes inflamed and creates a pimple. Adult acne can also be the result of an imbalance of hormones. It can be caused by imbalances in both androgens and estrogen, male and female hormones. For women, hormone imbalances can occur during pregnancy, perimenopause, or menopause. Certain medications or cosmetics can cause breakouts, as well as stress.
Treating adult acne is different from treating teenage acne because adult skin is different from teenage skin. Acne treatments formulated for younger people have harsher cleansers for oily skin that will be too rough on the typically drier adult skin. Try using a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil. It is safe for sensitive skin and won’t be abrasive like some exfoliating cleansers aimed at teens. Cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide will help to prevent acne, but they can also be the same harsh products that you used as a teenager. Some creams can help both wrinkles and acne at the same time (isn’t it ridiculous to have to fight both?), like ones containing retinol. Spot treatments with benzoyl peroxide will help to kill the acne-causing bacteria.
How you wash your face is important in the fight against acne. Always remove makeup before bed, otherwise it will mingle with sweat and oil and clog your pores, making acne worse. Wash your face twice daily; if you suffer from dry skin, one of the washes can be done with warm water, no cleanser. Avoid hot water, as it will only dry your skin. If you use a facecloth to wash your face, make sure that it is one meant for babies. Standard facecloths and towels will be too harsh: irritated skin can easily become acne-riddled skin.
Birth control pills can both cause and prevent acne in women. Depending on the amount of hormones, they can give you an overload, which will cause pimples…or the Pill could balance out your hormones, preventing future breakouts. The trick is to find the brand that works for you. If you start breaking out within a few months of starting a new brand, talk to your doctor about other options. Or weigh the positives and negatives of dealing with acne versus switching pills.
If your acne doesn’t get any better, book an appointment with a dermatologist. They will be able to prescribe appropriate medications, both topical and oral. There is no need to wait or to be embarrassed; it is a common problem and the doctor can get it sorted.
Acne is a terrible thing to repeat after you think you’ve made it through the worst of it. There is no reason to keep suffering through it, so treat it now and have the skin you deserve and worked for all of these years.