Treating Adult Acne
More than 50 percent of women age 25 to 58 have some type of acne and all the angst that comes with it. And if you've bought an arsenal of drugstore pimple creams and still have pimples to show for it join the club. "For about one in four patients, adult acne doesn't resolve with just over-the-counter treatments," Pimples are basically clogged pores that become swollen and inflamed due to bacterial growth. But unlike the blackheads you had as a teen, adult acne typically comes in the form of hard, painful knots called cysts near the mouth, temples and jawline. Cystic acne can leave dark spots or scars easily, so chronic sufferers should see a dermatologist. How can you beat breakouts? Start by addressing these hidden causes:
Hormonal Fluctuations: Experts don't know why, but oil glands are more sensitive to hormonal shifts during your 20s and 30s. These fluctuations are the most common cause of adult acne.
Blemish Buster: Birth control pills can help keep hormones steady, and may be enough to help reduce blemishes. For stubborn breakouts that don't respond to the Pill alone, topical creams or gels that contain retinoids (vitamin A derivatives), such as Retin-A, can also unclog pores in mild to moderate cases. For more severe cases, topical antibiotics, such as erythromycin and clindamycin, or oral antibiotics, such as tetracycline, work to reduce inflammation. (If you're pregnant, it's not safe to use these medications.) When other treatments have failed, your dermatologist may prescribe Accutane (isotretinoin). It is extremely effective, but carries some serious risks. Because Accutane can cause severe birth defects, you'll be required to use two types of contraceptives while taking it.
Stress: "One of the biggest acne triggers for women in their 30s is stress," Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which spurs the production of hormones that overstimulate oil glands. "It becomes a cycle: You're under pressure, which triggers acne, which then makes you feel more stressed."
Blemish Buster: Try some basic stress-relief techniques. Make sure you're eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. If you keep up these healthy habits for a month or two and still don't see any results, talk to a dermatologist about a prescription acne remedy.
Daily Grooming Products: "Nature gave us 600 oil glands per cubic centimeter on our noses, 400 on our cheeks, and 20 on our arms," Yet we use more products on our faces than any other body part, which can clog pores and trigger breakouts.
Blemish Buster: Use only noncomedogenic (non-acne-causing) cosmetics, and make sure your moisturizer is oil-free. And try to avoid touching your face or resting your chin on your hands doing so can add dirt and bacteria to the areas most inflamed by adult acne and may further clog pores.
If you want your skin to be on its best behavior, you need to clean up your act and follow a few rules.
1. Don't overdo cosmeceuticals. With more and more beauty potions containing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), salicylic acids, antioxidants, and retinoids, mixing a cleanser from one line with a scrub or daytime moisturizer from another, then a night cream from yet another, can lead to over-exfoliation and irritation, This can add up to a real problem, especially for women with olive and darker complexions, who are more prone to discoloration when their skin is irritated. To play it really safe, stick with one line of products which are formulated to work together. If you use any prescription products, such as Renova, ask your dermatologist to advise you on how to combine prescription treatments with over-the-counter cosmeceutical products.
2. Shake your booty. Twenty to 30 minutes of any aerobic exercise will give you a glow. Exercise increases blood flow, which brings more nutrients to the skin, But beware the buildup of oil and perspiration can result in sweatband acne, folliculitis, and prickly heat. The solution: Shower as soon as possible after working out.
3. Don't get intimate with the phone. Constant rubbing on the mouthpiece may lead to rashes around the chin and mouth, Hold the phone away from those areas when talking, and clean it often with a mild soapy solution or rubbing alcohol.
4. Check your birthday suit for spots. Any sudden or suspicious-looking bump, mole, or other growth is reason to see a dermatologist. But as skin-cancer rates rise, having a full body check by a professional is crucial especially for those of us in the baby-oil-and-iodine, pre-sunscreen generation. "People in a high-risk group having a personal or family history of skin cancer, a lot of moles, fair skin, and/or light eyes or hair may need regular checkups starting in their teens, and probably no later than age 35," Even if you're not in a high-risk group, the American Cancer Society recommends that between the ages of 20 and 40, people have a cancer-related checkup, including a skin exam, every three to four years. Once you hit your 40s, begin having a cancer-related checkup, including a skin exam, every year. You should also be doing monthly self-exams to keep an eye out for changes and growths.
5. Eat healthy. Antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E) which help reduce sun damage and fight certain cancers, including skin cancer are essential to your health, She recommends a well-balanced diet filled with at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, plus a multivitamin that meets RDA standards.
6. Don't wear your makeup to bed. We all know it, but we sometimes do it anyway. "Layers of foundation, powder, and blusher left on overnight can clog pores and lead to acne or folliculitis," Take it all off before bed with a mild non-soap cleanser. But don't waste your money on a cleanser with glycolic acid or AHAs: "It's not on your face long enough to absorb into the skin, These ingredients are more effective in your moisturizer."
7. Hands off those zits. Poking, prodding, and popping can prolong a pimple's life and make the problem worse. Scarring and the spread of infection are two possible consequences. To speed up healing, cleanse your face, then apply a warm compress, such as a clean, damp washcloth. Next, dab on an over-the-counter cream or lotion containing a drying agent, such as salicylic acid, sulfur, or benzoyl peroxide.
8. Get your shut-eye. Most of us don't get the eight to nine hours we need to avoid sleep deprivation. There haven't been any conclusive studies on how being tired affects skin, but the effects aren't hard to detect namely, under-eye circles. The solution: Budget in sleep time, including a short afternoon nap whenever you can manage it. The downside: Sleeping in the same position for years on end can lead to wrinkles. Look for special pillows that help prevent sleep creases on your face.
9. Adopt "water, water, every day" as your mantra. Yes, drinking water does keep you hydrated, which helps skin look and feel better," Get in the standard 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses throughout the day more if you're a heavy exerciser. Many of the new sugar substitutes are dehydrating, so drink more water if you're into low-cal liquids.