Acne isn’t just for teenagers; adults can suffer from acne, too. Adult acne may be a continuation of the skin breakouts experienced during adolescence, or it may occur for the first time during the adult years. First time acne that appears in adulthood is referred to as adult-onset acne.
Adult-onset acne is more common in women than men and may be related to fluctuating hormone levels. For this reason, breakouts tend to occur around monthly menstrual periods and during pregnancy, peri-menopause, or menopause.
Factors contributing to adult acne are family history; stress, pore-clogging hair and skin care products, certain medications or underlying medical conditions.
Adults with persistent acne, especially those with severe acne, cysts or nodules, should consult a dermatologist. Over-the-counter medications and home remedies may not be effective, but many products are now available that allow acne to be successfully managed.
Topical treatments applied directly to the skin work by killing the bacteria that cause inflammation or reducing the oil that clogs skin pores and leads to breakouts. If you are purchasing an over-the-counter acne remedy, look for products containing a retinoid, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If your acne is severe, prescription-strength medication may be required. In these cases, your dermatologist may prescribe oral antibiotics, Isotretinoin, or birth control pills.
Depending on the severity and type of acne, light therapy, chemical peels or drainage and extraction treatments may be used. These treatments are often very effective and can be performed at a dermatology office.
Adult acne, like acne at any age, can lead to low self-esteem, social isolation and depression. Even with appropriate treatment, acne can take weeks, or months, to resolve. Talk with your dermatologist about your concerns and how soon you can expect to see treatment results. Once skin clears, be sure to continue treatment to prevent new breakouts.