Bye-Bye Blemishes: Treating Adult Acne

You can blame your adult acne on a bevy of reasons. One such reason is hormone fluctuations due to your period, pregnancy or menopause. This hormonal uproar can cause your skin to speed up oil production which leads to blocked pores and acne breakouts. Another reason your skin may be changing during your middle years is due to environmental factors such as stress or pollution, causing your day to literally show on your face. Though research is still ongoing, you may even be able to blame what you’re eating and drinking for those pesky pimples. No matter the reason, the acne process is multifaceted and includes abnormal keratinization, extra sebum (facial oil) production and a rapid increase of the bacteria, Propionibacterium responsible for the acne and inflammation. If you’ve been dealing with stubborn adult acne, you might be feeling frustrated that you have to start treating your face all over again just like during your teen years. Since skincare has changed so much since you were a teenager, you might not even know where to start. Follow this guide for understanding how to treat adult acne so you can say farewell to skin breakouts and hello to more enjoyable days without adult acne.


Daily Care for Adult Acne

It’s much easier to find time to wash and care for your face when you’re younger. The older you are the more time you spend taking care of others, leaving less “me” time for your beauty routine. Once you get all of your kiddos in bed (not to mention if you have newborn), it’s easy to want to crash into your pillow. Fight the urge to skimp on your nighttime and morning regimen. Acne prevention includes washing with a gentle cleanser so you can get rid of excess sebum, remove dead skin cells and take off any leftover makeup residue, all of which can clog your pores.


Ingredients That Fight Adult Acne

Certain ingredients are formulated specifically to kill acne-causing bacteria. Instead of treating the breakouts, these ingredients work by killing acne-causing bacteria before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your skin. Let’s examine these ingredients, what they are and how they help conquer your breakouts.

Benzoyl Peroxide

One of the most commonly used ingredients to treat acne is Benzoyl Peroxide, a medication that can be used to treat mild to moderate cases of adult acne. It works by destroying the acne-causing bacteria, as well as, speeding up your skin cell’s turnover. Irritation and dry skin can frequently occur so some spot treating may work better for your particular case.

Tea Tree Oil

Derived from the Tea Trees of Australia and long-used by the Aboriginal people, the oil works like an astringent to treat mild to moderate acne. An all-natural alternative to other chemical treatments, tea tree oil works by destroying acne-causing bacteria. Tea tree oil should only be used as a topical treatment and never ingested.


An antibacterial agent that stops the growth of the bacteria associated with acne. It’s also used in many household items like mouthwash, deodorant, and toothpaste. Generally, a low dose is used for treating acne. Research about the effect of triclosan on antibiotic resistance is ongoing.


Either prescribed as a topical treatment or ingested, an antibiotic can inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Clindamycin is an antibiotic that is applied to the skin to treat acne.  Doxycycline, Erythromycin, and Minocycline are taken orally and the symptoms of acne usually start showing improvement after a month or so of treatment. There are some studies underway that suggest using Benzoyl Peroxide with the antibiotic treatment can prevent antibiotic resistance but studies are ongoing.


Ingredients That Unplug Adult Acne

Another common treatment for mild to moderate acne, salicylic acid helps to unclog pores and stop the buildup of material in the pores. It does not, however, kill the bacteria or slow down sebum production. It’s found in many lotions and creams.


Also known as Retin-A which is a retinoid (derived from vitamin A), Tretinoin works to unclog pores by pushing out the sebum and acne-causing bacteria. As an exfoliant, it stimulates skin cell turnover. It also suppresses inflammation, thus inhibiting unnecessary buildup in the pores and reducing the number of pimples that pop up. Using Tretinoin also helps to heal your pimples faster.


Also categorized as a retinoid, Isotretinoin is used to treat severe acne by attacking every aspect of acne formation: regulating sebum production, unclogging pores, killing bacteria and suppressing inflammation. It’s used to treat the most severe cases of acne.


Ingredients That Prevent the Surge of Adult Acne

When your hormone levels get out of balance, like during your period or pregnancy or when starting menopause, breakouts can be an unwelcome consequence. Unfortunately, these hormone surges are more common in women than men, causing females to break out more commonly due to hormonal changes. Thankfully, there’s something that can help.

Birth Control Pills

BCPs work to keep your hormones at a predictable level. Each month, when you would normally have a surge of hormones, your body gets a routine dose. This helps to lower the lesions that appear and the sebum that is produced as a result of hormone surges. There are side effects that may occur from taking BCPs, so make sure you clear the regimen with your doctor before treatment.


Ingredients That Prevent Inflammation of Adult Acne

One of the common signs of acne is that red swelling known as inflammation. To reduce the effects of inflammation, you’ll want to turn to ingredients that can soothe aching skin.

Natural Extracts and Oils

Because of the harsh nature of chemicals used to treat acne, natural oils and extracts have been used to reduce the redness and swelling caused by acne by providing a natural, gentle alternative. Some of the most common are witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, fish oils, and zinc.


The Aftermath of Adult Acne: Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation and Scarring

Inflammation that can cause raised areas and inflammation is the bodies response to the plugged pores that cause acne. This post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) can be hard to handle and can take a long time to go away. In the meantime, you’re left with a dark area that can be bothersome. If deeper damage has been done to the pore and surrounding area, it can cause scarring. Scarring can be the result of a follicle that is damaged, if an area is picked leaving behind a deep indention or if the skin raises up causing a reverse indention, scarring may also occur. Luckily, you’re not alone in your struggles with acne. Years upon years of research has given you many options to treat the PIH and scarring associated with acne. For PIH there are whitening ingredients available to help lighten dark spots. [tip] Curious about whitening ingredients? Check out [previous blog] for a complete list.

There are also effective treatments for acne scars that can help improve your self-confidence and reduce the appearance of acne scars.

Chemical Peel. A chemical is used to take off layers of skin with acne scarring. The new skin that grows in place is less hyperpigmented and scars are less visible.

Microneedling. A mechanism is used to help your body produce its own collagen and elastin to fill in the effects left by acne scars. It helps to tone and tighten by targeting the development of the pores.

Laser Resurfacing. Uses a light beam to target the scars and remove the skin that has been damaged by acne.

Though research is always ongoing about new and improved ways to treat acne, there are several treatments that can provide proven results for helping you handle your adult acne. If you think a mild lotion may do the trick, or if you find yourself needing to handle the process of scar treatment, talk to your dermatologist about the best course of treatment for your specific case.

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