Yes, adults get acne, too. But I’m probably not telling you anything you didn’t already know if you’re reading this blog post.
Some can continue to get it into their 40s and even their 50s. It’s also possible to get your first breakout as an adult. It’s what’s referred to as adult-onset acne, and it’s most common among women going through menopause.
Women have always been more prone to adult acne than men, but those numbers have been growing in recent years, and dermatologists aren’t sure why. If you’re getting acne as an adult, it’s probably due to one of the following reasons, or a combination of them:
Fluctuating hormone levels.
An imbalance can cause breakouts. Women often experience them:
- Around their periods
- During pregnancy, peri-menopause, and menopause
- After discontinuing (or starting) birth control pills
Though the link hasn’t been firmly established, a limited body of research suggests that some people may have a genetic predisposition for acne. In other words, if someone in your immediate family suffers from acne, there’s a chance you may, too.
More fleshed out is the connection between stress and acne flare-ups. Our bodies produce more androgens, a type of hormone, in response to stress. Androgens stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can lead to acne.
Medication side effect.
Acne can be a side effect of some medications. If you suspect yours is triggering breakouts, continuing taking it, but talk with the doctor who prescribed it. If she confirms that acne is a possible side effect, ask if there’s an alternative medication you can take. If there isn’t, see a dermatologist to help control your acne.
Hair and skin care products.
As with teens (and anyone else), certain moisturizers, cleansers, sunscreens, makeup, and hair-styling products can cause breakouts. Start buying products with at least one of the following terms on the label:
- Won’t clog pores
What you can do about your acne
It’s a common misperception that allowing acne to simply run its course is the best approach. But in doing so, dark spots and permanent scars can appear on the skin as the acne clears. We’re also living in a day when almost every case of acne can be controlled with the right treatment.
For those with a few blemishes, start with an over-the-counter product that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, either of which is effective for clearing the skin. And be patient. It’ll take four to eight weeks to see an improvement. Even then, you’ll need to continue to treat your skin in order to prevent new breakouts.
For more severe cases, or if you haven’t seen any improvement after using an over-the-counter product for a few weeks, see a dermatologist. Beyond prescription medications, dermatologists have a wide range of acne treatments at their disposal, including laser and light therapies and chemical peels.
The takeaways: Embarrassing as a breakout may be, it’s normal. But that doesn’t mean you need to accept it. Treating it aggressively will not only help clear your skin faster but also prevent future breakouts and lasting damage to your skin.