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Adult Acne? Causes, Treatments & Prevention

If you're thinking,

"I'm an adult, so why am I still getting acne? When will it stop?" or "I've never had to deal with acne as a teenager - Now I'm experiencing breakouts and blemishes. What's going on with my skin?"

Here are a few things you should know about acne and what you can do about it:

The Difference Between Adult Acne & Teenage Acne:

For many, it comes as a surprise to learn that adult acne is actually different than preteen or teenage acne. During puberty, teens commonly experience acne on the upper half of the face while adults will find that breakouts appear on the lower half of their face. Adult acne is often deeper and cystic, which feels hard to the touch and cannot be 'popped' or drained.

What causes breakouts in adults?

Heightened stress, hormonal fluctuations or elevated Testosterone levels, certain medications, environmental factors, skin care products and residual make-up are the most common reasons for adults experiencing breakouts and blemishes.

Hormones: Women often notice cystic acne appearing around the time of their menses. An excess of androgens not only causes acne, but it can also stimulate unwanted hair growth (commonly found on the face, lip, chin and neck).

Medications: Certain drugs like corticosteroids, lithium, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids and medications that contain bromides or iodides, can cause acne or acne-like eruptions.

Make Up & Skin Care Products: When shopping for skin care products, check the label; it's important to look for the word "non-comedogenic", meaning it will not congest pores or generate acne. It's also good to know what ingredients to look out for. Sometimes, the product label will say "non-comedogenic" but the ingredients do not match up. Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol and Mineral Oil are among the many. Some ingredients may even sound natural and beneficial, like certain oils: (almond, avocado, apricot, beeswax and coconut). For a complete list of comedogenic ingredients, click here.

Environmental Factors: If you work outdoors or your work environment involves sweating, dirt, debris and bacteria can easily find their way into your pores. Keeping cleansing cloths or Witch Hazel and some cotton pads handy throughout the day helps to minimize breakouts.

Keeping Acne Under Control

There are many ways to help keep acne at bay, but the main focus is to keep skin decongested and free of bacteria, dirt and oil. The basic at-home regimen should include a cleanser with natural acne fighting ingredients like tea-tree or eucalyptus, a toner like salicylic acid to dry out acne or Witch Hazel to balance pH and a hydrating serum. Great ingredients for keeping inflammation down include aloe, cucumber, chamomile and green tea.

Diamond Microdermabrasion: Regular resurfacing of the epidermis (the outermost layer /dry, dead skin cells) with Diamond Microdermabrasion is fantastic for keeping skin clear, toned and can even prevent wrinkles and progressive signs of aging.

By removing layers of dead skin, dirt, debris, residual make-up and blackheads you are minimizing your chances of a breakout. Your skin will be able to breathe and will say 'Thank You' with a radiating, youthful glow.

The nice thing about the Diamond Microdermabrasion is that the results are immediate, it is safe for all skin types and it is hypo-allergenic.

It is important to note that skin with active acne containing pus should not receive Microdermabrasion treatment as it can break open and spread bacteria across the skin.

*If you have whiteheads, you can use an over the counter Salicylic Acid Toner with a cotton ball on the affected area, or Witch Hazel. Witch Hazel is great because it is a natural antiseptic and contains no alcohol, so it will not cause dryness or flaking.

Acne Facials: Acne facials are customized to specifically target acne and balance pH levels.

At my office (Renew Laser & Aesthetics), I've customized what I call my "Clear Skin Facial" to benefit acne-prone skin with top quality products and high-tech machines backed by science. I start by cleansing the skin with acne-fighting botanicals like tea-tree, eucalyptus and sage. I pair a fruit acid mask with steam to help soften the skin and open the pores to allow for easier extractions (removing blackheads and clearing pores). After extractions, Argon High Frequency is passed over the skin to kill bacteria and calm any redness or inflammation. A cooling aloe mask is paired with LED Blue Light Therapy; Blue Light kills bacteria and oxygenates skin cells. To finish, Hyaluronic Acid Serum is applied to lock in hydration.

When dealing with acne, I prefer to use hydrating serums instead of a moisturizing cream; A serum has a smaller molecule making for easier absorption and it keeps skin feeling light, where a cream moisturizer can leave skin feeling heavy and greasy. Cream moisturizers are more appropriate for more mature, dry and aging skin.

Laser Therapy for Acne: Laser helps to kill bacteria and dry out existing acne. The procedure is simple, painless and the patient is often in and out of the office in under 15 minutes. During the procedure, the laser is pulsed directly over the blemishes- there is a cool burst of cryogen which feels like a cool spray of water to optimize comfort as well as safety. To finish, a post-laser lotion and a non-comedogenic SPF is applied to protect skin after treatment. Treatment can be repeated in two weeks if necessary.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) Therapy for Acne: The revolutionary, healing blue light invented by NASA, has been scientifically proven to kill bacteria and oxygenate cells at wavelengths of 405-470 nanometers. It is a relatively short treatment time, so I incorporate it into my Clear Skin Facial.

At Home Skin Care Tips:

Each night, be sure to cleanse your skin thoroughly to remove make up, oil and dirt that builds up throughout the day.

Cleanse make up brushes and let them air dry to avoid introducing bacteria into your pores when applying makeup.

Change pillow cases often to prevent bacteria build up.

Keep witch hazel and cotton pads handy to swipe over affected areas and keep skin clean.

Trying to break and drain whiteheads or shallow, surface acne yourself is not recommended as it can cause bacteria to spread to other areas of the face. You should never attempt to break and drain a cyst.

Instead, at the onset of a cyst, applying ice can help shrink it and minimize inflammation. Salycilic Acid can be used to spot treat acne, but be careful not to overuse as you can significantly dry out your skin which will cause flaking. Never peel any scabs that may form with acne, as you can damage the skin and cause scarring; they will fall away on their own when ready.

Lastly, keep skin hydrated with a light weight non-comedogenic moisturizer or serum.

For a consultation regarding acne, please feel free to reach out by calling or texting (561) 255-0272.

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