Understanding Acne In Adults

Acne is usually associated with adolescents undergoing puberty. A large number of dermatologists would generally agree that more than 80% of adolescents experience the pain of being afflicted with this skin disorder. It seems that acne is beginning to get us when we are younger now, as kids of age 10 are being reported to suffer from this annoying skin problem.

The painful thing about this skin disorder is the long duration it usually stays on the skin, being at least five years for a large number of adolescents. For so many unfortunate teenage acne sufferers, their acne problem could seem to remain on their skins forever, sometimes as long as eight years translating into what dermatologists later call adult acne because such individuals are no longer teenagers.

As a number of young adults like myself have discovered, acne is not restricted to adolescents only. Although this skin disorder is more common in teenagers than in adults, the intensity could sometimes be very severe in adults. Many adults that are acne free tend to feel that adult acne is due to poor hygiene.

That notion is plain wrong as there is no type of this skin disorder that is caused by poor hygiene, it could worsen the condition but it is not the main cause. Hormonal and chemical imbalances in your body are the major causes of the acne condition that you currently experience. Such imbalances in your body cause your sebaceous glands to secrete more oil (sebum) than usual, which in most situations results in pimples breakouts.

A simple understanding of how acne pimples form on the skin would correct the notion that acne is caused by poor hygiene.. Every hair pore has a gland attached to it. This gland is called the sebaceous gland and it produces a sticky and greasy substance (sebum also know as oil). This oily substance (sebum) is very helpful in maintaining the skin’s moisture. This is your body’s way of preventing your skin from drying out. But it becomes a problem when the sebaceous glands produces too much sebum.

This over production in sebum is as result of hormonal and chemical imbalances in your body. When the sebaceous glands produces an excess amount of sebum, the hair pores get blocked with both sebum and some dead skin cells. The clogged pores results in increased bacteria activity that produces an inflammation on the skin, which results in blackheads, whiteheads and in severe cases nodules and cysts.

Going by some medical encyclopedia that I checked recently, a special kind of bacterium know as Propionibacterium lives on the human skin. This bacterium is harmless only when the amount of sebum (oil) produced by the sebaceous gland is of the normal quantity. The moment the sebaceous gland produces too much sebum this bacterium secretes enzymes and chemicals that results in an inflammation on the skin. This inflammation results in pimples, cyst, and nodules, which you see on your skin. Such pimples, cyst, and nodules if left untreated would definitely results in permanent and deep scars that would remind you of your adult acne every time you look in the mirror.

Hormones and Adult Acne

There are quite a number of factors that affect the hormonal changes in your body, some of which are: the condition of the environment (pollution), ultraviolet rays, water and food intake. In modern times, farmers’ use various ways of ensuring a bountiful harvest, some of which include the use of growth steroids (in cattle), pesticides and genetically produced foods. All these affect the quality of the foods we consume and are one of the causes of hormonal and chemical imbalances in the body. Some other factors that could worsen your adult acne condition include:

  • Picking at or squeezing at the pimples
  • Side effects from some drugs – (contraceptive pills and some other drugs)
  • Harsh scrubbing of the skin
  • Use of Oil based cosmetic products
  • Stress, illness or exhaustion
  • Heat and moisture
  • Pregnancy
  • Menstruation
  • Menopause

Acne In Adult Women Thought To Be Hormonal! Treatments and Options

Adults may continue to suffer from acne blemishes long past their teen years, with 25 percent of men affected by adult acne and up to 50 percent of women. While there is an understanding of the intricate process with which acne forms, it has been difficult to determine why it continues into adult life, especially causing acne in adult women.

It is believed that most adult acne is caused by hormone activity and there are several times when hormones go out of whack through the adult’s life. The most obvious time is during puberty, as well as pregnancy and menopause. The hormones, androgen is known to help the creation of oils in the skin and can cause blockages in the hair roots where acne forms. This hormone is present in males and females and is believed partly responsible for acne in adult women.

Females are at a greater risk due to the nature of their hormonal cycles such as menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. There are treatment options available for acne in adult women, in which topical ointments and treatments are showing no sign of helping. Some physicians have promoted the use of low-dose birth control pills to help reduce the increased androgens. Any usage should be on the advice of a physician and to be knowledgeable of the potential side effects of birth control medication.

Treatment Options For Severe Acne In Adult Women

Benzoyl peroxide is the most often recommended treatment for adult acne along with topical retinoids and, in extreme cases, oral antibiotics may be necessary to combat inflammation. If your doctor prescribes oral retinoids, and are at risk for pregnancy, you will be required to use two forms of birth control as these drugs can cause severe birth defects if you get pregnant while taking them.

It has been found that outbreaks of acne in adult women can be reduced by decreasing the body’s androgen production and greatly reducing oil production through the use of spironolactone, available by prescription.

Cleaning you face and other acne-prone areas of your body with a mild face cleaner is recommended and scrubbing should be avoided as it can actually spread the bacteria as well as promote more acne blemishes. To remove surface oils that may cause outbreaks of acne in adult women you can use glycolic acid or salicylic acid. These may cause excessive drying of the skin and a moisturizer may be used to reduce dry skin.