Most discussions of acne focus on the teenage experience, but adult acne is more common now than ever before. A recent study of 92 dermatology clinics found a 200 percent rise in the number of adults seeking specialized acne treatment. Caused by hormonal changes, lifestyle, and stress, among other factors, adult acne still carries a stigma – despite the finding that more than half of adults experience breakouts. In most cases, this acne appears as blackheads, whiteheads, and pustules, but cases of deep-set cysts and nodules are also common.
Dealing with acne as an adult is never fun, but there are strategies and treatment options designed to target both consistent and occasional flare-ups. Whether you’re unsure why acne keeps developing or a breakout isn’t responding to over-the-counter treatment, visiting one of our Minneapolis-area dermatologists is a great idea. We can help you manage and treat your adult acne.
Adult Acne Causes
Nearly all adult acne is the result of clogged pores and inflammation. That said, understanding acne’s exact cause can be difficult, especially if your breakouts are more sporadic now than they were when you had teen acne. Keep in mind that some acne causes affect adults more than others.
- Acne Vulgaris: Acne vulgaris is the most common form of acne. This is caused by hormonal changes that occur as a person ages, namely menopause, postpartum, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Additionally, physical and emotional stress can produce a similar hormonal change. When this happens, the oil glands overproduce, creating excess sebum. When combined with dirt, this substance can clog hair follicles, resulting in acne vulgaris. Some medications, like corticosteroids and lithium, can also cause acne vulgaris.
- Acne Mechanica: This form of acne occurs when friction occurs on the skin, creating an acne breakout. Adults may experience acne mechanica if they wear tight clothing, participate in cardiovascular exercise that can make skin and clothing rub together, and use shaving razors against dry skin.
- Acne Conglobata: This is a severe form of adult acne that presents with nodules, comedones, and abscesses. The condition typically begins between ages 18 and 30 and persists for several years, typically ceasing when the individual is in their 40’s. It appears as interconnected lesions, especially on the chest, face, thighs, upper arms, and buttocks. Though the cause is unknown, it is associated with testosterone and can also be a result of anabolic steroid use. If you suspect you have this adult acne condition, visit your dermatologist immediately.
Other Adult Skin Disorders
The term “adult acne” is sometimes used to describe skin disorders that aren’t actually acne lesions. These conditions can range in severity, discomfort, and location. Rosacea, for example, is often referred to as “adult acne,” or “acne rosacea,” but it differs in cause, symptoms, and treatment. This condition often develops in adults older than 30 years and it manifests as red, swollen bumps. Similarly, pyoderma faciale, also called “rosacea fulminans,” appears as painful nodules and pustules on the face. The condition typically affects women between the ages of 20 and 40, and it appears abruptly.
Some forms of psoriasis can also be confused with pimples. Pustular psoriasis can form white blisters surrounded by red skin, resembling a common whitehead.
Whether you suspect you have acne, psoriasis, rosacea, or something more sinister, it is important to recognize when you cannot identify a bump or lesion. If you aren’t certain that a pimple is a pimple, make an appointment at one of our Minneapolis-area clinics. We can quickly and easily diagnose your skin bump and provide the treatment necessary to reduce symptoms.
Adult Acne Treatments
As with teen acne, adult acne often responds well to over-the-counter topical skincare products. Ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide work together to kill bacteria and chemically exfoliate the skin, both treating acne and preventing future breakouts. Adults may also find retinoid creams to be useful, as they can both treat acne and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
However, sometimes adult acne does not respond to at-home treatment. When this happens, a dermatologist can provide an invaluable service. Whether through professional acne extraction, prescription treatments, or reassurance that what you’re experiencing is normal, visiting a doctor is an important step toward lifelong skin health. Schedule a visit with us if you’re interested in learning how a prescription, oral medications, or other treatment options can improve your skin.
Adult acne can be an uncomfortable experience. While it happens to most people, adults with acne tend to feel shame and embarrassment when they can’t clear up a pimple. If you have adult acne, visiting the doctor is the easiest way to clear your skin.
When you visit Zel Skin & Laser Specialists, one of our trained staff members will assess your skin, provide a diagnosis, and work with you to develop a treatment plan that works. Perhaps you’re in your early 30’s and dealing with the occasional breakout. Maybe you’re in your late 60’s and want to know why there are bumps appearing along your hairline. Regardless, don’t let adult acne interfere with your confidence. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.