Adult acne and what to do about it

Adult acne and what to do about it

What is acne exactly?

Acne occurs when the sebaceous glands in our skin secrete excessive amounts of sebum, an oily substance that blocks pores.

When that happens, bacteria proliferate and cause inflammation anywhere from one to two weeks later.

It’s at that moment that you cry out in despair at the nasty blemishes looking back at you in the mirror.

What is to blame?


Specifically, hormonal fluctuations are the reason for these breakouts. It’s not surprizing that adult women are more affected than adult men.

Breakouts are often at their worse a few days before a menstrual period, when on the pill, during pregnancy or during menopause.

Heredity also plays a part in hormonal disturbances. If you suffer from adult acne, it’s more than likely that someone in your family also has the same problem.

In very rare cases, ovaries or adrenal glands can be the root cause for acne.

Two myth busters

Contrary to popular belief, adult acne is not caused by poor hygiene habits or unhealthy diet or too much sugar.

Risk factors

You’re more at risk to suffer from acne if:

  • You’re stressed.
  • You perspire a lot.
  • You take medication like cortisone or lithium.
  • You work in an environment that exposes your face to oil, chlorinated products or tar.
  • Your parents had acne.

What should you do?

While teenage acne is relatively easy to treat, it’s not quite the same story for adult acne. You have to be patient and allow time for treatments to take effect.

It starts with a good scrub

Wash your face morning and night with a mild, fragrance-free soap. There’s no point scrubbing too hard; your skin won’t be cleaner. Rinse well using warm water.

To tighten up the pores, use an astringent lotion.

Twice a day is the general rule, and more often only if:

  • You perspire a lot.
  • You wear a hat or helmet.

The worse thing you can do is neglect to moisturize your skin

Your skin is oily so it’s tempting to skip the moisturizer after you wash your face.

Still, your skin absolutely needs moisturizing, even if you have acne.

Why? Because your skin’s sebaceous glands are less inclined to produce sebum if your skin is well hydrated.

To buy the right product, get professional advice to be sure the moisturizer is non-comedogenic.

Other tips

  • Remove make-up and clean your face well before bedtime.
  • Stay out of the sun. It won’t dry your pimples and many anti-acne products make your skin more sensitive to the sun as well as being less effective. Good reasons to avoid those rays!
  • Wash your makeup brushes once a week, as well as your shaving blades.
  • Avoid touching, scratching, pinching or rubbing your skin, or popping the pimples.
  • Use cosmetics that are compatible with your skin type. Non-comedogenic cosmetics can block the pores of your skin.

Over the counter products

Ask your pharmacist for advice. They will surely propose products that are based on benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid or sulfur.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are also recommended for their ability to eliminate dead skin cells.