More than 80% of teens have acne. Unfortunately, acne does not always fade away at the end of puberty, and can continue to be an issue for some in their 20s, 30s, and sometimes even 40s. Multiple studies show that 50% of women in their 20s, 25% of women in their 30s, and 20% of men still struggle with acne.
Like teens, adults with acne can suffer from a negative body image, poor self-esteem, and discrimination in the workplace and other social settings. Some studies even suggest that acne negatively affects the quality of life of adults with acne more than teens. Adult skin heals and regenerates much slower than teenage skin, resulting in longer-lasting scars.
Adult acne is different from teen acne in many aspects including location, triggers, and treatment principles.
What are the different causes of teen and adult acne?
Throughout puberty, our bodies increase in sex hormones called androgens (like testosterone), which can cause enlargement of the skin's oil glands, also known as sebaceous glands. Teen acne is triggered when the oil glands in the skin enlarge and produce more oil. This oil mixes with dead skin cells that accumulate in the openings the oil glands, clogging the pores. Once the pores are clogged, acne bacteria become trapped inside and triggers inflammation.
In women, hormonal fluctuations caused by the menstrual cycle and pregnancy can make acne worse. Studies have suggested that almost 70% of women report a worsening of acne right before menstruation. Other causes of acne in women are the use of comedogenic makeup, overuse of cosmetic products, picking of the skin, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and some medications (including steroids, lithium, and phenobarbital).
Common triggers for both teen and adult acne are cow's milk (dairy) and food with high glycemic indexes such as processed carbohydrates and sugars. Applying the wrong makeup, skincare products such as oil-based serums, and washing the face too often are also a frequent cause of more acne breakouts. As the excessive application of different products can cause more harm than good, it is important to simplify the skincare routine.
A telltale sign that helps differentiate adult and teen acne is the location. Teen acne tends to affect the forehead and cheeks. Adult acne usually appears on the lower parts of the face, such as around the mouth, on the chin, and along the jawline.
What is the difference in treatment for teen acne and adult acne?
The skin of teens is typically oilier than that of adults and can tolerate more potent and drying acne medications. Milder and less drying acne medications, paired with a matching oil-free acne-prone skin moisturizer, are usually better for treating adult acne.
What are the best treatments for adult acne?
The best treatment for adult acne will include preventive measures (right diet, the right makeup, etc.nd a ), a medicated mid acne cleanser, an oil-free skin moisturizer, and a night treatment cream customized to individualized acne severity and skin type.
What is the best diet for people with adult acne?
As with teens, proper diet is essential for adult acne treatment. High glycemic index foods, like sweets, cakes, and white bread promote inflammation and can lead to breakouts. People with adult acne benefit from eating low glycemic foods like wild fish, nuts, fresh fruits, and organic, hormone-free meat.
What are the best acne medications of women with adult acne?
Blackheads and whiteheads:
Most adults (especially women) have drier skin types than teens. Acne washes and medications meant for teen acne can be too drying and irritating to their skin. While typically tolerated by teens, off the shelf acne washes, particularly those with benzoyl peroxide 5% or 10%, are too drying for women with adult acne and are not recommended.
The best treatment for blackheads and whiteheads for women with adult acne is be a beta hydroxy acid (i.e., salicylic acid). These magical ingredients help remove excess oil and exfoliate dead cells from the skin's surface.
Inflamed acne pimples in adults:
The best choice to treat inflamed acne pimples would be benzoyl peroxide 2.5%, which kills acne-causing bacteria and reduces inflammation.
Topical antibiotics like clindamycin and erythromycin come in various strengths and also work by killing acne-causing bacteria. That said, topical antibiotics are regarded today as problematic for acne treatment due to bacterial resistance, and is not recommended to be used as a single treatment.
Topical retinoids work by helping to shed old skin cells faster, allowing new skin cells to form and reducing the chance of clogged pores and acne. That said, the type of retinoid used for acne treatment is critical. For optimal results, it's best to avoid over irritating retinoids (Adapalene or Tazarotene) and look for milder retinol-based products (0.25% - 0.5%) that are available over the counter.
The most common therapies for adult hormonal acne are birth control pills and spironolactone. Women that prefer a more natural way to balance their hormones can use DIM supplements. The DIM + cruciferous supplements contain natural extracts of cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, alfalfa, and spinach) specially formulated to help balance hormones and reduce signs of hormonal acne in women.
What is the best treatment for "under the skin" pimples in adults?
Women with hormonal acne tend to have "under the skin" pimples or cysts, which are usually inflamed and painful. To fight them effectively, it is best to combine the right diet, a topical treatment, with hormone balancing supplements (DIM), oral antibiotics, or spironolactone (an anti-hypertensive medication that has been shown to reduce hormonal acne).
For women with severe or cystic acne, it is necessary to supplement a topical treatment with oral antibiotics, accutane, or spironolactone.
Retinol for adult acne
Hormone balancing supplements (DIM) for adult acne