Adult Acne, What Are Those
Acne is a big skincare issue and the root of low self-esteem for many teenagers growing up, but random breakouts throughout your adulthood are just as annoying.
Commonly acknowledged as adult acne, these breakouts can be very persistent, with some developed during teenage years persisting into your adulthood, or late ones that emerged after hitting the mid-twenty mark.
However, in contrast to acne in adolescents, adult acne is usually mild to moderate in severity, appears commonly on the jawline, flares up before the menstrual cycle, and sometimes just presents as large whiteheads among most people.
“Adult acne is usually on the lower half of the face; teen acne is typically on the upper half,” says Dr. Francesa Fusco, an NYC-based clinical professor. “Adult acne is also deeper and appears as cysts, or ‘under the skin’ pimples, which can’t be drained.”
"What’s interesting is that you can get it [as an adult] even if you didn’t have it as a teenager." – Francesca Fusco, MD.
The Causes of Adult Acne
The most scientific, straight-forward explanation of the cause of adult acne is either clogged pores or inflammation.
Oily skin, sweat, dirt, and toxins can all contribute to clogged pores; if the pore is inflamed, acne will follow.
Skin inflammation can result from a plethora of reasons. Fluctuations in hormones are the most common causes of acne inflammation regardless of age. Aging, menstruation, and pregnancy all lead to drastic changes in hormones.
Emotional stress such as anxiety and physical stress such as harsh environmental factors can also lead to skin inflammation. Other triggers such as an unbalanced diet, medications, skin irritants, poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, and excessive drinking are also accounted for adult acne formation.
Ways to Combat Adult Acne
Topical Creams, Acids & Antioxidants
Benzoyl Peroxide is the ingredient to keep all year round just in case a small zit turns into a pesky pimple.
Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that dwell in the follicle which causes inflammation. Beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid are also proven to be effective in the treatment of active acne.
A high concentration of retinoids (Vitamin A) can help reduce the inflammation as well. If the acne is severe, see a dermatologist for prescription creams or antibiotics.
"Ice-cold temperatures help constrict blood vessels, so wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and hold it against the bump to reduce redness and bring down the swelling a bit," says Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, who recommends icing three times an hour in 10-minute intervals.
Ice helps reduce inflammation. Athletes are often seen taking ice baths before and after exercising for the same reason.
Calm the Inflammation with Natural Ingredients
A study has shown that natural ingredients such as aloe vera, centella asiatica, and tea tree oil can help calm redness and reduce inflammation. Pure aloe vera gel is used to treat sunburn, irritated skin for its antibacterial property, which also makes it effective to treat acne.
Centella is a new rising star ingredient full of actives that have been studied for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects.
Various studies have shown that tea tree oil is effective in acne treatment, a very potent extract from the leaves of the Australian tea tree, tea tree oil must be diluted before any skin contact as it could cause an allergic reaction if used in a large dose.
Tips to Prevent Acne
Deep Cleanse & Exfoliation
Air pollution, environmental toxins, sweat, makeup, and sunscreen residues can all lead to skin inflammation.
Cleanse your face thoroughly before bed every night, and exfoliate three times a week with gentle physical exfoliators or acids such as AHA or BHA to effectively clean the skin surface and the pores.
Wear Sunscreen, But Not Too Much
Sun exposure irritates the skin, enlarges pores, dehydrates, and deprives the skin of nutrients.
Enlarged pores trap more dead skin cells and toxins, while dehydrated and weak skin cannot fend itself from bacterial infections. Wearing sunscreen daily can prevent the formation of adult acne, and prevent skin irritation from developing further.
However, many sunscreen products are pore clogging due to its protective nature, so layer it on in moderation.
Maintain Great Hygiene
Adult acne, or acne in general, happens when hair follicles become blocked or inflamed.
Maintaining great hygiene helps reduce the frequency of breakouts. Cleansing and exfoliating your skin ensures that the pores are free from dead skin cells and dirt.
Remember to wash your bedding and change your pillowcase frequently to keep away grime and germs, avoid touching your face, and cleanse your face morning and night especially if your skin is oily - these steps will help you stay away from all the irritants.
You are what you eat, clear skin doesn’t come from a diet of sugar and grease.
If you want to fight persistent acne, avoid processed foods as much as you can, cut down your dairy intake, and replace them with plant-based options.
It is also highly recommended by dieticians and dermatologists that opting for a diet of antioxidant-rich foods such as leafy greens, fruits, seeds, lean protein, and fish that is packed with omega-3 fatty acids would benefit your skin in a long run.
Practice Yoga or Mindfulness
Adulting is hard.
The pressure from work, relationship, family, society’s expectation…they all take a toll on your mentality. Stress harms your physical health and leaves worrying lines all over your face.
Stress can also cause hormone imbalance, a major trigger of adult acne. Yoga and meditation help ease your mind off things and channels your inner peace to find that mind-body connection.
Mindfulness exercises are also great for relieving stress - take a three-minute break from work every hour to practice mindful seeing, mindful hearing, or simply just yawn and stretch to full relaxation.
Oily skin, hormone, stress, women’s menstrual cycle, diet, and general skin irritants are guilty of causing adult acne. When the acne persists into adulthood, it is usually because you are not fully aware of the acne triggers.
Adult acne is annoying, but as long as you treat them timely and appropriately with our tips, you will eventually bid goodbye to that angry red emoji of a face.
Tell us your best acne remedies, or things you do that calmed the breakouts on social media. Let’s all work together and thrive for that acne-free future