What You Need To Know About Adult Acne

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Argh! You cleaned out your high school locker years ago and now you have acne pimples on your jaw this morning. You’re not alone — 1 in every 5 women over 25 has acne.

Adult acne, in contrast to the teenage type, occurs more often in women. For some women, this is the first time they had acne; we call this late-onset acne. For other women, their acne never stopped from childhood into adulthood; we call this persistent acne. Many of my women patients have other names for adult acne, but they cannot be printed here.

It Must Be Hormones

We like to blame everything on hormones. In the case of acne, hormones contribute, but they are not the only factor. Stopping birth control pills causes a change in hormones and is  a cause for acne in adult women. Similarly, using progestin-only birth control pills affects hormones in such a way as to cause breakouts. Pregnancy is a time of dramatic hormone fluctuations and for some women, dramatic acne. Similarly, menopause can trigger outbreaks. Despite these known hormonal triggers, most women who have acne do not have hormonal imbalances (they are normal fluctuations in hormones). Foods or supplements that claim to balance women’s hormones don’t. So save your time and money, they won’t help your acne.

You Can’t Scrub Acne Away

Exfoliating to open pores can help, but only when done in moderation. Harsh scrubs or repeated microdermabrasion will irritate the skin and make acne worse. Instead, use mild chemical exfoliators such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid which are found in many women’s cosmetics and in acne treatments. Products that contain benzoyl peroxide also help to exfoliate and will treat adult acne.

Don’t Give Up Your Scharffen Berger Chocolate

Although myths of chocolate and pizza causing acne have been disproved, it is true that consuming cow’s milk (which contains hormones) as well as eating a diet high in carbohydrates (which causes inflammation) can contribute to acne. Eating chocolate once and a while, especially good chocolate, will not cause or worsen your acne.

Cosmetics Cause Acne

Many skincare products contain ingredients that clog your pores, triggering acne. Pantene shampoo as well as many hair conditioners have been known to cause this problem. Also, sunscreens are notorious for causing acne. If you notice that your acne is worse around your hairline or that it has flared since you started sunscreens, then try changing your products; it might be all you need to clear up your face.

Photo: Foundphotoslj (flickr)

Post written by Dr. Benabio Copyright The Derm Blog 2009