Adult Acne

Adult acne is a thing. You are not alone if you are still fighting spots. 64% of adults suffer from acne in their 20’s and 43% in their 30’s. It is even possible to get acne for the first time as an adult. In the same way that men bald in a certain pattern, adult onset acne tends to affect the lower third of the face with red angry bumps and painful pus-filled pimples along the jawline, chin and neck. The hair follicles and oil-producing glands in this area are more sensitive to hormones sending oil production into overdrive. Sound familiar?

Say “Hello” to your skin’s new puberty.

But having a name for it and being part of a statistic is not helpful. You want to know: how do I get rid of it!

Clean up your diet

Ditch the dairy especially fat-free milk. It is sad but true that milk is not only pro-inflammatory but it also contains breakout triggers such as testosterone and Insulin-like Growth Factors. Skimmed milk interestingly is the worst culprit as it contains less skin-clearing oestrogen than whole milk. Plus the lactose in milk is a sugar which stimulates insulin, the catalyst for a whole hormonal cascade resulting in more inflammation and oil production. High glycemic foods such as refined flour, sweets and processed carbohydrates cause breakouts in the same way.

Work on your gut

Acne is often a red flag that there is an imbalance in your gut bacteria (we call this the gut microbiome). It is critical to reverse the overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut by avoiding inflammatory foods and replacing digestive enzymes while repairing your gut lining and upping your gut-loving fibre intake to feed the ‘good’ bacteria. Reinoculating your gut with probiotics and fermented foods are important but if introduced too early can actually worsen symptoms. The root4 Bio-clarity skin pods help to clear skin from the inside-out with acne-fighting beauty ingestibles: zinc, Vit E, copper, chromium, Vit D3, Omega and Nicotinamide which work at a cellular level to reveal your most radiant, blemish-free skin. Working with an integrative nutritionist is highly recommended.

Simplify your skincare regimen (and stick to it!)

The sheer number of products women (and increasingly men!) pile on may be to blame for “pomade acne”. This was originally described for pimple-causing hair ointments but now refers to breakouts from any occlusive product which blocks your pores. Too many active products can cause inflammation, which then leads to acne flares. By the time my patients reach me, they usually have a staggering list of products they have tried out of desperation. 

The golden rules

Don’t over-cleanse – stripping your skin of oils will make your skin produce even more oil

Respect your skin barrier: adult skin is more sensitive and drier than robust teenage skin. Creams and serums targeted at acne can be more irritating so balance with a barrier-restoring moisturizer and introduce just one or two targeted topicals at a time. Too much of a good thing can be bad for your skin!

Give any new product at least a 6 week trial to see whether it is working

Look for products which balance oil production and your skin microbiome without irritation: these include ingredients such as niacinamide, resveratrol and prebiotics.

Keep those fingernails away from your face! Picking is an absolute no-no

Work on stress management 

Stress and the cortisol spikes it causes can make your oil glands go haywire. Since stress is unavoidable, dependable stress management techniques are so important: whether meditation, working with a therapist, exercise or just taking a long, hot bath with lavender-scented bath salts at the end of the day is what works for you. That ‘tired yet wired’ feeling is a warning sign that your cortisol levels are too high.

Check what medication you are taking

One of my first questions to my adult acne female patients is always: what contraception are you on. Are you using the Mirena – a progestogen-releasing IUD? Let’s be clear: Your skin does not like progesterone. That’s why your skin can freak out when you’re pregnant. Treating acne while still on the Mirena is like swimming upstream. Other culprits in adult-onset acne are antidepressants and anti-epileptic medications. 

Check your hormones

New onset acne in adults can be a sign of excess androgens (think testosterone) produced by the ovaries and adrenals in women. Hormone tests are important to check for hormonal imbalances found in Polycystic ovarian syndrome and menopause for example which could be triggering your acne.

Try over-the-counter solutions

A simple yet effective skincare regimen for acne-prone skin would include the root4 Cleansing Elixir with lactic acid to unclog pores balanced by prebiotics to reduce acne-causing bacteria. Use the multifunctional Mask Antidote as your daily moisturizer OR as a spot treatment. With its clarifying clay extracts together with brightening Vitamin C and alpha-arbutin as well as its collagen-remodeling peptides, it targets acne, post-acne dark marks and acne scarring for a 360 degree acne solution. Add in your sunscreen and you’re A for Away.  If your skin can tolerate it, an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide gel or wash can also be helpful for its anti-bacterial properties. 

Cleansing elixir box

See a dermatologist

If nothing clears your acne, see a dermatologist. Effective treatment is available. Often we will use combination therapy using prescription topicals with oral medication and in-practice treatments.  With a dermatologist’s help and a bit of patience, virtually every case of acne can be controlled.

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