Five Facts About Adult Acne

June 19, 2019

“If you had told me when I was 13 that I’d still be getting zits at 43 – well, I might have just not made it.” So said a friend about adult acne. Things get better, no doubt about it. But for many people, acne never completely becomes a thing of the past. And in fact, adult acne is on the rise. Why is this?

At any age, acne is the result of several factors, and as we grow older, the mix of those factors changes. Part of the pain of acne as a teenager is the widespread misinformation that if you just kept your skin clean and quit chocolate, things would be okay. How deeply discouraging to find that these true-isms, often spoken by clear-skinned friends, somehow didn’t prove true for you.

It’s true that clean skin is important. But did you know that it’s possible to wash too often for acne, especially as an adult? And it’s true that chocolate, or any sugary food, triggers insulin, which stimulates male hormone production and aggravates acne. But why didn’t cutting it out altogether work?

Facts Over Myths

For anyone who’s felt the discouragement – even shame – that comes from the myths about acne, some facts can help. In most cases the myths of acne were just over-simplifications. Looking a little deeper turns up better answers.

First, overproduction of oil in the skin is the major factor for acne as a teenager, yet as an adult, the primary cause is more often hormones. So, cutting down on sugar and reducing the body’s insulin-testosterone response to it is perhaps an even better idea as an adult. The acne that’s prompted by androgens such as testosterone cause the deeper, cystic acne that arises around the neck, chin, and back.

Second, a conscious, careful face-washing twice a day is good advice at any age, but when you’re older, the object is to get rid of skin debris and keratin, rather than oil. Cleansers that contain a gentle amount of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help with this, because these ingredients help with exfoliation. Those that contain sulfur are a better idea for teens, because sulfur draws oil from your skin, and you might want a bit more of that as your skin gets older.

Third, genetics plays a huge role in acne, especially the kind that persists into adulthood, so just give yourself a break. You inherited a lot of useful traits from your ancestors that have done well by you in life. This just isn’t one of them. Recognizing that some of the factors behind acne are things you can’t do anything about could play a role in feeling some relief.

And that leads to a fourth fact. Stress is a factor in acne. This could be one of the reasons adult acne is increasing. (Pollution is another.) Our mobile, multi-tasking modes today can be unforgiving. So, the inside job of stress reduction is one of the solutions we recommend for adult acne. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, and techniques that help us manage our state of mind don’t sound so “out there” anymore.

And the fifth fact we offer here is that the causes – and solutions – for acne at any age are a blend of factors unique to each person. It’s one of the reasons the myths and conventional wisdoms of our teen years mostly didn’t work. No single answer is solid for everyone. That’s where we offer our help.

At Dermatology Consultants, you’ll meet board-certified dermatologists who know and care about the uniqueness of even the most common skin conditions, the complex of causes that’s particular for each person. Let us be your guides to the skin you can enjoy showing the world. Just contact us to get started.


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