- Acne, which occurs often during puberty, can affect adults as well.
- These are formed when skin pores are blocked by excess oil, dirt and bacteria.
- Hormonal imbalance is a common trigger that often results in cystic acne, painful bumps around your neck, forehead and back.
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that commonly occurs among teenagers. Unfortunately, it can also develop well beyond our teenage years.
There are several effective treatments available for treating adult acne. However, it’s best to understand what’s causing your acne in the first place in order to know the best way to treat these stubborn zits.
Read on and learn more about some common factors that play a role in developing acne among adults.
What causes breakouts?
Acne typically appears on areas of the skin that have the most oil (sebaceous) glands such as your face, forehead, chest, back and shoulders. When skin pores become clogged and blocked with excess oil, dead skin cells, and possibly bacteria, the clogged pore forms a pimple or raised red spots filled with pus. Also known as blemishes or zits, pimples are a part of acne.
Common contributors to adult acne
For the most part, the factors that cause acne during puberty are also at play in adult acne.
1. Hormonal changes
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says hormonal acne normally appears around the time of your menstrual period; during or after pregnancy; during perimenopause and menopause, and when starting and stopping hormonal birth control use.
Such hormonal changes stimulate the formation of stubborn and painful pus-filled bumps called cystic acne on the chin, neck, and back of people with oily skin and with hormonal imbalances. Cystic acne doesn’t usually go away on their own, and are more likely to cause scarring if popped, Dr. Rebecca Kazin of the Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology, tells SELF.
2. Chronic Stress
During stress, cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’ which regulates various bodily processes, is released and can start messing with those bodily processes including your skin, New York City–based dermatologist Dr. Neal Schultz, tells SELF. Research indicates that it may trigger acne by creating a breeding ground for bacteria-driven inflammatory acne.
In addition to increasing your risk for skin cancer and premature aging signs, UV exposure may contribute to acne because it dries out the skin leading to more oil production in an effort to compensate. That’s why it’s essential that you wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF basically every day to help prevent adult acne and protect your face in general.
4. Applying the wrong products
Skin-care products labeled “oil-free,” “noncomedogenic,” or “water-based,” are advisable for oily or combination skin because these are less likely to clog your pores, says Dr. Schultz.
Try a gel-based moisturizer like Simple Light Hydrating Moisturizer, $4; CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion, $12; or Tatcha the Water Cream, $68.
5. Frequent and intense cleansing
“Overwashing your face can make acne worse,” Dr. Kazin explains. Instead, cleanse twice a day only with gentle cleansers such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $14 or SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser, $35, or DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, $28.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, just exfoliate once a week or every other week with products like Paula’s Choice the Unscrub, $29; Tatcha the Rice Polish, $65; or Benton Aloe BHA Toner, $19.
6. Certain foods
For some people, their skin reacts badly towards certain foods. It’s best to track what foods affect your acne so you can consider cutting them out. And, get the advice of your doctor or an R.D., before making major dietary changes.
7. Some underlying health conditions
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone-related condition that causes irregular periods, facial hair, weight gain, and hormonal acne, which is due to the abnormal hormonal fluctuations it can cause.
The side effects of medications such as corticosteroids, lithium, or androgens can also cause acne, the Mayo Clinic says. So, you’re more likely to get acne if you’re managing your conditions with these drugs.
Check in with a dermatologist to figure out what’s actually going on if you suspect your acne is caused by a health condition or medication.