How to deal with adult acne

August 15, 2018 | by Kimberly McKinnon, D.O.
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

You thought you were done with this.

For years you’ve been living a clear-skinned adult life, no acne treatment in your bathroom cabinets.

Then, one morning, the pimples resurface.

Yes, adults sometimes have to deal with acne. It’s not as predictable as adolescent skin problems, but a little detective work (and perhaps a visit to a dermatologist) can nip it in the bud.

There are some common acne triggers adults face, including:

  • Hormones. Throughout their lives, women deal with fluctuating hormones. When you reach puberty, have a baby, or begin perimenopause or menopause, your hormones can spark breakouts. Surges and dips in testosterone can affect men in similar ways.
  • Food choices. In 2013, the American Academy of Dermatology reported dairy products, milk in particular, showed a weak but possible association with acne flare-ups. Going heavy on carbs and sugar may also encourage acne. Instead, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables — it may help reduce acne.
  • Stress (see hormones). When you’re stressed, your body pumps out more hormones that stimulate oil production in your skin and hair follicles. This can lead to acne.
  • Your workout. Sweating while wearing makeup, oil-based moisturizers, dirty workout clothes or using dirty towels can contribute to a breakout.
  • Medication. Acne is a side effect of some medication (it can also be a symptom of disease). Check in with your doctor if you have acne. A different medication may work without producing pimples.
  • Hair/skin care products. Persistent acne could be caused by the products you use on your face. Make sure your moisturizer, sunscreen and other skin care products say non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, oil-free and/or won’t clog pores on the package. Be sure to moisturize, even if your skin seems greasy. Moisturized skin will produce less oil.

Depending on what’s causing your acne, your doctor may recommend different ways to treat it.

There are some things you can do to prevent your acne from getting worse:

  • Don’t pick at, touch or pop pimples.
  • Only use clean things on your skin — washcloths, pillowcases, hats, etc.
  • Don’t scrub your acne, be gentle. Harsh scrubbing irritates skin and makes acne worse.
  • Make sure you wash your face if you’re sweaty, as well as when you wake up and before bed at night.
  • Use acne medication on your entire face, not just on the pimples. That will help prevent new pimples from popping up.

The dermatologists at Edward-Elmhurst Health have specialized training and state-of-the-art tools to help you with acne and any other skin, hair and nail condition. Learn more.

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