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March 3, 2016 | Dermatology
Because acne is frequently stereotyped as a teen problem, many adults are baffled as to why they continue to experience this dreaded condition well into their twenties and onward. Clinical studies have shown that between 40 and 55 percent of the adult population are diagnosed with low grade, persistent acne and oily skin. The problem is much more prevalent in women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, which reported that 54 percent of women older than age 25 have some facial acne.
Further research from the International Dermal Institute concludes that adult onset acne is more likely to be inflammatory and is more difficult to treat because older skin is typically less resilient than that of teens. The following outlines the top causes of adult acne, which can help you get one step closer to finding a solution.
Unfortunately, acne is largely caused by factors outside of your control, such as heredity and genetics. Genetics determine how your body’s immune system responds to bacteria, how easily your pores become clogged, and the degree of redness and pigmentation your skin exhibits. Genetics can be unpredictable, but they are not the be-all and end-all of your treatment.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hormones influence acne in a number of different ways. Hormonal imbalances cause excess sebum (or oil gland) production, skin cell accumulation in hair follicles, skin inflammation, and an increased number of the acne-causing bacterium Propionbacterium acnes. Androgens, male hormones found in both men and women, can also overstimulate oil glands and alter the development of skin cells that line hair follicles. Women who experience increased breakouts during their menstrual periods can likely trace the problem back to hormonal causes.
Acute stress is known to cause breakouts, since high stress levels increase testosterone production and, in turn, hike up oil production. Stress also causes an inflammatory response in the body, which can then cause the walls of clogged pores to break. The result of this is increased redness around the broken pore and an influx of pus—more familiarly referred to as a “pimple.” Since women produce a much larger percentage of androgens in the adrenal gland than men, they are more likely to face breakouts as a result of stress when compared to men. Add this biological factor to the mounting pressures adult women face to meet career goals and maintain a functioning household, it is perhaps unsurprising that women experience more stress-related breakouts than their male counterparts.
Add clearer skin to the endless list of benefits you can gain from maintaining a proper diet and overall good health. Foods with a high glycemic index are known to make acne worse. These include white grains like bread, rice, and pasta, as well as foods with a high sugar content. In addition to being unkind to your waistline, high-glycemic foods have shown to trigger breakouts in both teenagers and older adults. Dehydration can also cause your skin to dry out, which breaks up the skin barrier and leaves it vulnerable to irritants. Dehydration also increases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to further fight against acne triggers. Due to increased hormonal content, skim milks are another dietary component that has been linked to acne flares.
Eric Schweiger, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, explains that certain minerals in high concentrations of hard water can cause skin irritation like acne or eczema. Hard water can often leave a mineral residue on the skin that can clog pores and lead to breakouts. Water filters and purifiers for both your sink and shower can eliminate these impurities, and may be particularly helpful for adults with facial as well as bodily acne.
If you suffer from adult onset acne, it’s important to see a professional dermatologist as soon as possible to detect the causes early and find an effective treatment. Although altering some of your habits can help prevent and treat any outbreaks, expert advice is crucial for an ideal result.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.