Maybe it is chocolate’s fault?
Perhaps the cleansing routine has fallen below standard alongside all the other ‘me time’ luxuries? Or my Aldi brand facial cleanser is just not cutting the mustard?
Maybe I’m still too young to have clear skin? Hah! Immature yes, but by the time you hit your thirties mainly, we ask ourselves why we’re still struggling with this ‘teenage’ complaint.
Adult acne tends to develop around the mouth, on the chin and along the jawline and more commonly affects women than men.
It usually falls into one of two categories: ‘persistent acne’ is problem skin that carries through from adolescence into adulthood; ‘late-onset acne’ starts after the age of 25, with people in their 30s and even 40s developing the condition.
No matter how old you are, acne occurs when there is an increase in the production of sebum (an oil that keeps your skin soft and supple) in the skin which, combined with an increase in the number of dead skin cells around skin pores, leads to clogging of the skin follicles. Bacteria then accumulates in the skin follicles, causing inflammation.
Dietary and hygiene factors can contribute, and some acne is caused by a genetic predisposition where dead skin cells build up inside the pores.
Blackheads and whiteheads are potential pimples that haven’t been attacked by this bacteria yet. But once the bacteria takes hold you can be sure you’ll be sporting a whopper.
Adult acne is cystic, which means it forms lumps under the skin. These cystic pimples can scar badly, so see a GP when they first appear. Soap, topical creams and lotions won’t be of much assistance here.
First Things First…
Look closely at your face-cleansing schedule. Are you positive you are cleaning every last little whisp of makeup off every single night? This is often the main cause of adult acne – I know – this is what I found to be my problem. Give your skin a really great cleanse, then look at investing in a toner. Toners might seem somewhat ‘Old Fashioned’ – but they are there to really get rid of any last tiny bits of makeup that cleansing might of missed.
In saying that – don’t over-clean your face. Use a gentle cleanser – you don’t want to aggravate your skin to the point that is is even more unhappy than it was before.
Ditch all makeup and skincare products that are over six months old. Old products can gather bacteria which will only make adult acne even worse. Next, invest in a good makeup brush cleaner. These are the best invention ever. When you think about it, makeup brushes accumulate old skin cells, have old makeup and oils on them that are just nasty. Clean your brushes after every single use. If your brushes are really old, please ditch them. Even regularly investing in cheaper brushes will be better for your skin than using good quality brushes that are old and might just be exaggerating the issue.
Stop Touching Your Face!
Hands and fingers are disgusting! You just think about how many times per day you are touching objects, then touching your face. You are transferring bacteria, which gets into any open sores (ie picked pimples – we all do it) – and then makes the problem worse.
Many times touching your face is sheer habit. To reduce the chances of spreading that bacteria, try washing your hands more often to that they are as clean as they can be. Having a small anti-bacterial gel on your work desk or at home where you see it a lot is a good idea too.
If you are scrubbing your skin with washers or abrasive cleansers, this can just aggravate your acne and make problems worse. Use a gentle cleanser and although exfoliation is very important, switch to a chemical exfoliant rather than an abrasive one. Chemical exfoliants use ingredients to ‘dissolve’ the dirt and grime in your skin. They are gentle and very moisturising – although you do need to use them for awhile to see any results.
Find a Skin Care Range that Caters to Your Age, and Skin Problem
If you are over 30, investing in good quality skin-care that will suit your age and any skin conditions is simply essential and will make a massive difference in the quality and texture of your skin. Skincare has come such a long way now, with quality ingredients that really focus on keeping your skin in the very best condition it can be.
I found for myself, I started using Alpha-H products about a year ago, and my skin has improved dramatically. Sadly the cheaper cleaners I bought from the supermarket might of been good when I was younger, but now my skin has a bit of sun-damage, larger pores and those damn blackheads, I really needed something that will kick-start my skin.
I find when investing in good skincare, buy the cleanser first – if you love it, then build up your other products until you have a range that suits you. But a good basic range of skincare should have:
- A good cleanser
- Moisturiser with sunscreen
- Night Cream
Anything else you add to this basic regime can be added later.
Great skincare lines that really invest time into giving you the best result (and will probably cure your adult acne at the same time) include:
Alpha-H is what I have been using for about a year now. It is an Australian brand and contains Alphadroxy Acid – yep, I put acid on my skin, every single night. The acid gently exfoliates my skin, has gotten rid of all my blackheads and is working on my sun damage – slowly, but surely.
Dermalogica is a clinical grade skincare that focuses on anti-aging, adult acne, treatment of pigmentation from sun-damage and restoring moisture back to the skin.
Dermalogica has a Breakout Clearing Kit which has mini-sizes to try before you invest in the large sizes.
Skinstitut is another great Australian brand that is a little pricey, but really focuses on improving breakouts, signs of ageing and most importantly of all – adult acne!!!
The Next Step When Skincare Hasn’t Made a Difference….
If Adult Acne has not responded to good skin care, a clean diet (allow them three or four months), see your GP. They can offer a range of prescription drugs that target the main causes of acne: hormones, blocked pores and bacterium infection.
There are other factors that can be the cause of your Adult Acne such as:
- Any other medications you may be on that may be interfering with your skin
- It could be hereditary which means seeing a dermatologist for professional advice
- Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome
- Adrenal Hyperplasia (an Adrenal gland disorder)
Your GP may prescribe you an external medication is used to treat pore blockages. He may do blood tests to test you for any of the above conditions or to test your hormone levels or may even prescribe you the contraceptive pill which works in some cases to clean up your acne.
You can try salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, or the GP may prescribe a peeling agent such as tretinoin. If you don’t see results after three months, see a dermatologist.
What Will a Dermatologist Do?
The next step up is seeing a skin professional – a Dermatologist. As no two people are the same, and different treatments work for different people, your dermatologist may subscribe to one or a combination of the following treatment options.
Microdermabrasion is pretty widely available now, not just in a Dermatologists office. It involves a ‘vacuum like’ device that ‘sandblasts’ your skin, and collects the dead skin cells that are ‘airbrushed’ off. It isn’t painful, but it isn’t exactly pleasant either. There isn’t any downtime and you may be pink for a couple of hours afterwards. Usually, microdermabrasion involves having a series of them done a few weeks apart for the best result.
Yes, chemical peels sound scary, but they can really go a long way in helping people with adult acne. There are a few ways that chemical peels are done, and they are not just good for acne, but a whole range of other skin problems that can be contributing to the problem.
Light chemical peels are usually done via a laser (called IPL) where the light is applied with a wand over your skin. You may feel little ‘flashes’ of heat, but it isn’t uncomfortable. IPL is usually used for mild cases of acne, mild acne scarring and pigmentation problems.
If you have moderate to major acne, the next step up in chemical peels is usually something along the lines of Photodynamic Therapy, which involves ‘staining’ the affected part of the skin, then ‘blasting’ it with light, thus destroying the cells that are causing the problem. This is more expensive and more painful, however, it does offer very good results.
Medical Grade Skincare
There is excellent skincare, then there is medical grade skincare which is only available through dermatologists and plastic surgeons. These products are expensive, and usually, contain a higher grade of ingredients that are extremely potent and need to be used under medical supervision. Medical Grade Skincare includes brands such as:
- iS Clinical
The most powerful medication for the treatment of acne is Accutane (formerly Roaccutane). A course is usually taken over a 3 – 6 months period. Females will be tested for pregnancy before undertaking this medication as it can cause birth defects. Accutane is a very concentrated form of Vitamin A and it works by shutting down your skins natural ability to produce oils. It has an 80% success rate, but it is hard-core!
As a person who has been on Roaccutane twice for extremely acne, I can tell you that this medication is no walk in the park. It dries your skin out to the point that your nose and eyes can ‘crack’ and ‘bleed’. However, it works like a charm.
It is a full-on, and has a long list of side-effects. It is certainly a drug that you shouldn’t go into lightly.
I hope this has helped you. I still get the odd blackhead and pimple that I can’t help but squeeze, but in the end, using a combination of all of the above has really helped my adult acne, and I hope it can help yours too!