Adult acne: pimples & breakouts are not just for teens

The truth of the matter is that breakouts and flare-ups can happen at any age or stage. In fact, adult acne is on the rise. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) reports that 25% of women between the ages of 40 and 49 have acne. The AAD adds that acne can be particularly frustrating for adults, as what worked for you as a teen may now be useless, or make your blemishes worse. Some adults will continue to get breakouts well into their 40s and even 50s. And, it is possible to get acne for the first time as an adult – common in women undergoing menopause. Here are some of the common causes in adults:

1. Fluctuating hormones: A hormonal imbalance can result in breakouts. This is most common:

• Around the time of your period;

• During pregnancy, peri-menopause and menopause; and

• After discontinuing (or starting) birth control pills.

2. Stress: Researchers have discovered a relationship between stress and flare-ups. In response to stress, our body tends to produce more androgens, which stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, leading to breakouts. This is one of the reasons why, when we are under consistent stress, the breakouts seem to be more regular.

3. Family history: Dermatologists have found that some people may have a genetic predisposition to acne. If a blood relative, such as a parent, brother or sister, had acne, you are more likely to get adult acne.

4. The products you use: If you are prone to breakouts and acne, make sure you read the labels on your skin and hair products, as this can be the trigger. Ideally, your product, including your moisturiser, cleanser and even your sun lotion, should contain the words non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, oil-free or “won’t clog pores”.

The AAD recommends that you:

1. Wash twice a day and after sweating. Perspiration (particularly when wearing a hat, cap or helmet) can increase breakouts, so try to wash your skin as soon as possible.

2. Use your clean fingertips to apply your cleanser. A facecloth, sponge or anything else can cause irritation.

3. Be gentle. Aim for skincare products that are alcohol-free and don’t use anything that will irritate your skin.

4. Avoid scrubbing. This can make your acne worse.

5. Rinse, using lukewarm water.

6. Shampoo regularly – if you have oily hair, shampoo daily.