*Guest Post by Claudia*
Mirror mirror on the wall, why do I have acne I’m 24?
Gone are the days where we only faced acne going through our golden days (teenage years).
Gone is the assumption acne is driven by puberty and puberty only. Blemishes I thought were done and dusted on my perfectly shaped forehead have returned, worse and more visible than ever before. “WHYYYY MEEEEEE,” I think repeatedly.
Adult Acne: two words, nine haunting letters I never thought I would be entering my dermatologist mentioning, yet here I am, at the prime age of 24 re-living my teenage nightmare.
It’s a pretty common thing, believing acne myths that is. For example, “dirt causes acne” or “washing your face more will cause minimal breakouts,” or “tanning in the sun will zap my zits”.
But, I hate to be the bearer of bad news as the true causes of acne are derived from a probable cause much deeper than these three myths my friends. This cause being hormones, and the hormonal changes our body’s experience. We will explore this conflicting topic now along with some preventative tips.
As we age our hormones fluctuate and change- just like us.
Hormones are the underlying cause of most adult acne. Usually depicted by acne occurring on the chin, jawline, and cheeks. Unfortunately, both men and women experience these unpleasant blemishes often appearing in the form of cysts or deep lumps.
One of the leading causes for women is derived from the discontinued use of oral contraceptives, whereby the body’s natural routine becomes disrupted as it may have been controlling the acne beforehand. For males, the androgens are a known contributing factor.
The effects of the hormonal changes being experienced by the body cause pores to become blocked and infected; this is usually painful and can also be triggered by poor diet and hygiene.
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Poor diet is a leading contributor of acne in young adults, highlighting the importance of proper nutrition and healthy eating.
When we age, our metabolism slows down, and because of this our body’s ability to break down all the enzymes entering our body from food is affected. The food we use to get away with scoffing down now affects us as excess fat causes estrogens to act like androgens.
This increases the amount of sebum that the body produces, which is natural oil that aids the skin in keeping it moist. When sebum is produced in excess- triggered by a poor diet, it causes hair follicles to be clogged, consequently causing acne from a secondary bacterial infection.
It is so important to use the right products for your skin. Invest less time in superficial skin products like makeup and invest in products that will ensure your natural beauty. Poor skin care is one of the leading triggers of adult acne, implement a face washing and cleansing routine into your life including regular exfoliation. (Try these easy acne face masks!)
The cleaner your skin, the better your chances of reducing blocked and clogged pores! If you tend to have acne prone skin, aim for products that are:
• Won’t clog pores
• Heavy creams
Also remember, as you age and change so does your skin! Products you loved as a teen may not be as effective on you now as an adult.
Blaming Mum and Dad
Unfortunately, some adult acne is triggered by a genetic predisposition. This causes dead skin cells to build up inside the pores and they act like plugs, causing the oil to get blocked.
This prevents naturally occurring oils that our skin needs from leaving the pore, causing the skin to become moister. When this happens, our pores become more vulnerable to infection, commonly causing pimples- different to white and blackheads.
Stop Fretting the Little Things
Stress is a leading contributor to acne due to the organ called the adrenal gland that it affects.
When you’re stressed, this gland makes the stress hormone called cortisol, which is released to help the body deal with its state of stress. When this is released, testosterone also leaks out and for a woman, this male hormone can cause the oil glands to produce more oil- the underlying cause of breakouts.
Because adult acne is cystic, as it forms under the skin- a trip to the GP is necessary. Cleansing and exfoliating the skin are preventative measures, but these things only remove surface oils and dirt, they cannot penetrate the skin which is what is required to treat the cystic lumps.
Patience, Patience, Patience
Treating acne does take time- the blemishes will not disappear overnight. Don’t be impatient and don’t overdose your skin. Always stick to the recommended dosage and advice given to you.
Depending on your acne and situation, a visit to the chemist can give you over- the- counter medication first to start your treatment. Products with the following ingredients can help:
• Salicylic acid
• Benzoyl peroxide
• Acne washes with Montaline C40
• Oil-free products
• Noncomedogenic products
Dermatologists & GP’s
For more severe acne a visit to a Dermatologist or GP is the answer.
Dermatologists are the leading skin specialists on the market- use them. They will help you. Commonly prescribed treatment options that target the cause of acne, by dermatologists and GP’s include:
• Contraceptive Pill — neutralises the effects of sex hormones that cause blocked pores
• Hormonal treatments (Cyproterone acetate, Drospirenone, Spironolactone)
• Retinoid — Topical ointment
• Antibiotics (Tetracyclines, Minocycline)
Tea tree oil is an excellent antiseptic and natural remedy that reduces the amount of acne-prone oils on the skin. Ensure you are using a concentration in the range of 5%-15%. Start doing this, along with the other preventive measures explored in this blog, and you are optimizing your skin!
So, what are you waiting for? Start the battle with your blemishes today!