Experiencing acne breakouts beyond your teenage years? Well, there’s no need to worry, as it is a common phenomenon referred to as "adult acne". This can be perplexing and frustrating, as many people associate acne with their teenage years. However, their persistence into adulthood can lead to social anxiety and lowered self-confidence. This is majorly because the potential for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and scarring is higher in adult skin, prolonging the aftereffects of breakouts.
There can be multiple contributory factors leading to this condition, that stem from an unhealthy lifestyle, emotional stress, non-compatible skin care products or more frequently, environmental pollution.
Distinction between adult acne and teenage acne
Although these acne may share some similarities, but there are also notable differences in their appearance and causes.
The most common distinction between adult and teenage acne in terms of appearance is that teenage acne often present as comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules (small red bumps) and pustules (pimples with pus). It is commonly seen on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. Teenagers often experience emotional and psychological effects due to acne, as it coincides with a period of self-discovery and social interactions.
However, adult acne often consist of inflamed papules and pustules, with fewer blackheads and whiteheads and are more likely to leave behind post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spots) after healing. Adult acne tends to be more focused on the lower part of the face, including the jawline, chin, and neck.
The persistence of acne from teenage years into adulthood is attributed to a blend of factors. Let us explore these multifaceted influences that collectively contribute to the continuation of acne into adulthood.
What factors contribute to the continuation of acne into adulthood?
Acne can persist into adulthood due to a combination of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Here are some common reasons why acne might persist in adulthood.
Comedogenic skincare and hair products: Hair products, especially those that come into contact with the face, can contain ingredients that clog pores and contribute to acne along the hairline, forehead and side cheeks. Also, certain skincare and makeup products can obstruct hair follicles and pores, thereby creating an environment conducive to the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
Environmental Factors: Exposure to pollution, humidity and other environmental factors can contribute to clogged pores and breakouts.
Stress: High stress levels can stimulate the body to produce more androgens (a hormone), which can increase oil production and result in acne.
Diet: High glycemic index foods lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. In response, the body releases insulin to help regulate sugar levels that can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil (sebum), clog pores and can lead to acne formation.
Over washing or harsh cleansing: Over washing the skin or using harsh cleansing methods can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the skin's barrier, leading to increased oil production and potential breakouts.
- Genetics: One may be genetically predisposed to experiencing acne through adulthood due to genetic factors that can play a major role in how your skin responds to acne formation.
It is important to remember that everyone's skin is unique, so the factors contributing to adult acne can vary widely.
Adult acne solutions: Top 5 effective treatment techniques
Treating adult acne involves a multifaceted approach to address its underlying causes and manage its symptoms effectively. Combining the following strategies and tailoring them to individual skin types and needs is key to effectively managing and treating adult acne and leading to clearer and healthier skin.
1. Incorporate gentle cleansing with sulphate-free formulas
To minimise the likelihood of pores becoming clogged, it is advisable to opt for sulphate and paraben free facial cleansers designed for oil control and tested for safety against acne. For enhanced effectiveness, consider incorporating gel-based acne clarifying products enriched with AHAs and BHAs. Additionally, serums containing niacinamide can offer substantial advantages by addressing enlarged pores and acne scars.
Consider exploring skincare and makeup products infused with ingredients having hydrating and soothing effects such as CalmNerv CR and Zano. You may also explore cleansers enriched with Zinc PCA, cocamidopropyl betaine, and citric acid that unclog pores, remove age spots and prevent acne exacerbation.
2. Never skip your moisturising routine
Oily skin needs moisturisation too. Yes, you read that right. It is essential for even oily skin to be moisturised. However, remember to go for an oil-free, mattifying, gel-based, non-comedogenic moisturiser that regulates hydration and has long lasting effects. While it might seem counterintuitive to use moisturisers when dealing with acne-prone skin, they can be beneficial in preventing overproduction of oil and reducing acne-related skin inflammation.
For best results based on scientific formulations, opt for moisturisers that are enriched with ingredients like cydonia oblanga leaf extract, saccharide isomerate, madecassoside and biosaccharide gum-I that function by soothing the inflamed/irritated skin and strengthening the skin barrier to prevent moisture loss and acne breakouts.
3. Master the art of sun protection for acne-prone skin
Exposure to sunlight intensifies the interaction between skin matrix and free radicals released by UV rays, thereby exacerbating acne flare-ups. This process also magnifies the appearance of hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, and age spots, ultimately resulting in skin redness and inflammation.
To counteract these effects, it is highly recommended to incorporate a non-comedogenic, broad-spectrum sunscreen that is water-resistant, with no white cast. Opt for an SPF 50 sunscreen that is free from oxybenzone, has an easy spread/absorption and prevents sun-triggered acne breakouts.
Notably, advancements in scientific research have led to the development of sunscreens that are specifically tailored for acne-prone skin, capable of regulating sebum production and enriched with ingredients such as eurol BT, physalis angulate extract, aloe vera extract and vitamin E that have anti-acne, anti-ageing and moisturising benefits.
4. Harnessing the power of topical treatments for combatting acne
Recent research studies have revealed topical over-the-counter (OTC) products with active ingredients like niacinamide, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and retinol are beneficial in treating acne.
Available in various strengths, benzoyl peroxide is an OTC ingredient that helps kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation and acne. In addition, niacinamide has sebostatic and anti-inflammatory properties that can calm acne and also help in removing post-acne scars. Using serums containing the right amount of active ingredients such as glycerin, esculenta fruit extract, neurobiox and copper tripeptide can help boost collagen and fade acne scars.
Other OTC options, like salicylic acid and retinol can help unclog pores, exfoliate the skin, promote skin cell turnover, unclog pores and reduce inflammation and acne breakouts.
5. Embracing healthy lifestyle changes for optimum skincare transformation
Lifestyle and skincare changes play a pivotal role in preventing and managing acne. These changes encompass various aspects of daily routines, from diet and stress management to proper skincare practices. Some basic tips include-
Avoid Touching: Avoid picking, squeezing, or touching your acne, as it can worsen inflammation and lead to scarring.
Diet: Incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, spinach, tofu, flaxseeds, etc. as they are rich in oxidants, which help reduce inflammation and fight acne.
Stress Management: Practise stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to minimize stress-related acne flare-ups.
- Regular Exercise: Exercise can help regulate hormones and improve overall skin health, but remember to cleanse your skin afterwards.
Incorporating a well-structured skincare routine is essential in the battle against acne. By following a consistent regimen that includes proper cleansing, targeted treatments, hydration, and sun protection, you can effectively address the root causes of acne and promote healthier skin.
The key lies in commitment – adhering to your routine diligently, coupled with skin-suitable acne targeting products will yield clearer, radiant skin.