Remember back when you were a teenager daydreaming about all the benefits of being an adult? No homework! No curfew! No sharing the bathroom with your annoying siblings! And you probably thought being an adult would mean no more zits, too, didn’t you? Unfortunately, that’s not true for everyone.
Acne can affect some people well into their 30s, 40s, and beyond, and some adults are even prone to “adult-onset acne.” So what causes adult acne, and what can be done about it? Fortunately, there are several treatments available, regardless of the severity or cause.
Causes of Adult Acne
Hormones: Women are more likely than men to suffer from adult acne, usually due to hormonal fluctuations from periods, pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause. Some women have also experienced breakouts after discontinuing or starting to use birth control pills.
Inadequate skin care: People with oily or combination skin are more prone to acne, so they should use skincare products labeled “water-based,” “non-comedogenic,” or “oil-free.” And this doesn’t just go for cleanser and moisturizer. Using improper sunscreen, either daily or for occasional outdoor activities, can cause breakouts as well.
Over-washing: Aside from using improper skincare products, washing your face too frequently (more than twice a day) or too intensely (using rough cloths or electronic cleansing tools) can irritate the skin and cause acne, or make mild acne much worse.
Medication side effect: Acne is a side effect of several types of medication, and while there are often alternative medications available, that’s not always the case.
Family history: Some research studies suggest acne is genetic, so if adult acne runs in your close family, there’s a good chance you’ll have it too.
Pollution: Although there are not conclusive studies that prove pollution causes acne, living in the city or other high-pollution areas can leave a layer of grime on your face that will clog pores if not cleaned soon enough.
Salicylic acid: There are hundreds of topical treatments for acne on the market, usually containing salicylic acid (also called beta-hydroxy acid), which is known as the “gold standard” of acne treatment for its ability to exfoliate and gently unclog pores. Salicylic acid products come in spot-treatments as well as cleansers, toners, and moisturizers.
Benzoyl peroxide: Another common acne-treating ingredient is benzoyl peroxide, which kills acne bacteria while exfoliating as well. Many over-the-counter cleansers contain benzoyl peroxide for full-face treatment, but if used too much, benzoyl peroxide products can dry out and irritate your skin.
Glycolic acid: An alpha-hydroxy acid, glycolic acid in another exfoliating ingredient, targeting both acne and wrinkles by removing dead cells on surface of your skin. Effective exfoliation also stimulates collagen and hyaluronic acid, which improves your skin’s texture and reduces fine lines.
Retinol: Topical retinoids are very effective and also work as an anti-aging treatment, but the downside is that they’re harsh on the skin. People with sensitive skin should probably avoid retinol-based products.
Spot treat immediately: In addition to finding skincare customized to your skin type and refraining from overwashing, it’s wise to keep spot treatment on hand to treat pimples as soon as possible, before they can inflame further.
Photodynamic Therapy: If the cause of your acne is hormonal, medical, or genetic, spot treatments and specialized cleansers won’t do much to combat the problem. In that case, you can try advanced treatments such as Photodynamic Therapy, in which a clear, painless solution is applied to the surface of the skin and activated by a specialized light to kill bacteria. Not only is Photodynamic Therapy effective for acne, but it also improves skin texture and reduces wrinkles as well.
Blu-U-Light: Another light-based therapy is Blu-U-Light, involving close proximity to a blue light that kills acne bacteria. Sessions only take about 15 minutes once or twice a week, and many patients report long-lasting results after a few sessions.
Cosmelan: A depigmentation agent that decreases melanin from the skin, Cosmelan treats skin discolorations and acne in virtually all skin types. The treatment involves two parts: first, applying a mask for 6-10 hours, and after it’s removed, applying a secondary product daily for the next few weeks at home. Significant improvement can be seen after just one week of treatment.
Ready to banish those pesky pimples?
If topical treatments aren’t doing much for your adult acne, San Diego Cosmetic Laser Clinic can help. We specialize in advanced treatments for all kinds of skin conditions, so give us a call for a consultation today!