Acne: It’s Not Just For Teenagers Anymore


Although acne typically affects many teens, both male and female, adult acne is on the rise especially for women.  Some of the latest surveys show that 55% of new patients being treated for skin problems are adult females.  More on that statistic in just a moment. 

First, though, I am sure many of you want to know the when, where, hows, and whys of this problem.When adult acne occurs, it lasts longer and usually does not resolve spontaneously without treatment.  The adult breakouts tend to center on the chin, jawline and neck.  Disturbingly, such breakouts occur when an adult is in his or her 20’s, and could potentially last well into his or her mid-40’s.  Many of these adult acne sufferers also did not necessarily have breakouts as teens. 

Many factors can lead to adult acne.  While one factor alone may be to blame in some circumstances, it is usually a combination of factors for most adults .  Stress is a major factor, as it stimulates the hormonal systems which in turn activate the sebaceous glands, providing a growth medium for skin bacteria.  Studies have in fact shown increased levels of acne in women with high stress and fast paced jobs.  Women also tend to have more papules (large red areas that don’t come to a head) which are painful and look very angry and inflamed. 

Women tend to outnumber men in adult acne as opposed to other way around in the teenage years.  In adult females, acne breakouts also occur during times of hormone fluctuations such as ovulation, menstrual periods, pregnancy and menopause.  I have seen many cases where changes in oral contraceptive types or stopping “the pill” can trigger acne also. 

Many experts also blame environmental triggers such as foods treated with hormones, air pollution, and products that come in contact with our skin that can increase inflammation (depending on one’s allergies).  Many supposedly “safe” skin treatments found over-the-counter in drugstores and supermarket can promote skin inflammation in sensitive patients.  Such products can contain skin dehydration elements such as alcohol.  Also, many people find that their skin gets more sensitive as they gets older due to damage over the years. 

After this rather depressing news, you may be saying to yourself, “Dr. Burke, what do I do now?”.  In the next blog post, I will outline in more detail specific ingredients and treatments that can reverse and eliminate this pesky problem especially facing adult women. In the meantime, if you go to the acne products section of our website, I have a number of safe but effective products that I recommend for adult and teen acne.  These products are very compatible with sensitive skin and laser-treated patients. 

Next time, I will also discuss other new, cutting-edge treatments that I am considering adding to our menu of care for the age-old and still frustrating problem of acne.  Meanwhile, feel free to call or e-mail us with any pressing skin care questions you may have.

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