We think of acne as an adolescent affliction, but breakouts don’t miraculously cease when you get out of braces. Just when you think you’re in the clear, factors like stress, hormones and diet can cause acne to flare well into your wrinkle-fighting years.
“Adult acne is much more common than people realize,” shares Rebecca Kazin, MD, FAAD, dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology. “I see a lot of patients starting to break out in their 30s when they go off the pill. Adult acne is primarily hormonal, and often hits people who didn’t even experience acne as a teen.”
As many as 50% of adult women in the US suffer from acne. In honor of Acne Awareness Month this June, Dr. Kazin shares her tried and tested anecdotes for adult acne:
- Be Gentle: Mature skin tends to be drier, so you need to be mindful that you aren’t blasting skin with harsh products that will further dehydrate it. You don’t need to wash with an antibacterial soap, as it can severely dry skin and lead to itching and redness. Instead, use a gentle cleanser (try one with salicylic acid).
- Avoid the Over-wash: Washing your face any more than twice a day can cause drying of the skin, which can cause skin to produce more oil to overcompensate.
- Get Ingredient Savvy – Most of the prescription medications are very irritating and drying and, therefore, can’t be tolerated in adults because their skin is not as oily. Among the adult-unfriendly ingredients: benzoyl peroxide and tretinonin. “I recommend Retinoids and chemical peels as they effectively address acne and aging at the same time,” says Dr. Kazin.
- Cystic Cures – For those painful, swollen spots,you can try warm compresses at home. It’s more inflammation and swelling than pus when blemishes are that deep. You could also try a topical steroid to decrease inflammation and pain in the short term. If you go into the office, your derm can inject it with cortisone to take the pressure off.
- Scrub Safely – “I like Clarisonics, but choose the gentle brush. It helps remove all makeup and helps your cleanser work better, but I worry about the coarse ones, because it’s almost like giving yourself microdermabrasion twice a day, which can cause a breakout,” warns Dr. Kazin.