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Dealing with Adult Acne


Close up portrait of beautiful young woman face. Isolated on white background.

Adult acne is by no means an uncommon problem. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that acne affects nearly 50% of  women of all ages. No matter what our age, pores—which contain oil glands—become blocked, allowing dirt, bacteria, and cells to build up.


Adult acne is more challenging to treat due to the special needs of adult skin which may be dry, showing signs of aging or sensitive to acne treatments designed for oilier, teen skin. As we age, collagen production slows down, which in turn slows the skin’s healing process, allowing the possibility for scarring.


Here are some helpful tips on how to prevent acne:


  1. Manage your stress levels

The biggest acne trigger is stress. The more stress you have, the more your body releases the cortisol, which makes your acne worse, and can  cause even more anxiety and  stress. In addition, a small amount of testosterone is being released,this male hormone can drive the oil glands to produce more oil—the root cause of breakouts. Try getting 8 hours of sleep every night- it helps  to reduce excess cortisol and let your skin regenerate. Make time for exercise,  exercise delivers oxygen to your skin cells, making it hard for acne bacteria to thrive.


  1. Healthy diet

Not having a balanced diet and eating too many refined carbs, chocolate or junk food  can cause problems.  Sugar, a natural skin saboteur  raises your insulin level, and insulin may boost those oil-triggering male hormones as well. Stick to low-glycemic foods—ones that have complex carbs like veggies and whole grains, which break down slower in the body and cause less of an insulin spike. Keep in mind that in some people certain food can trigger the acne process, resulting in a worse breakout.



  1. Over washing your face

Cleansing more than twice a day can dry out your skin, which can lead to excessive oil production to overcompensate, thus clogging your pores. You need to deep-clean your skin without stripping moisture. Find products that are made specifically for acne prone skin with anti-aging and anti-blemish ingredients, and   make sure you are using gentle cleansers that don’t strip your natural oils.


  1. No-No to popping zits

The temptation to pop must be resisted  because it may have terrible, and sometimes permanent, consequences. It drives the bacteria deeper and you can damage the surrounding skin tissue, which can lead to scars. Instead, apply an ice cube to reduce inflammation, and then follow with spot treatment to speed healing.


  1. Limit sun exposure

Sun exposure is cumulative and small exposures can really add up.  There are two kinds of ultraviolet sunlight: UVB “burning” rays are the ones that cause sunburn. However, the majority of the UV damage comes from UVA “aging” rays. Wear only “broad spectrum” sunscreen- which means it blocks both wavelengths. Look for zinc oxide, avobenzone or Mexoryl™ on the active ingredient list.



Fields, K. M.D. and Katie Rodan M.D.: “The Doctors’ secrets to a Lifetime of Clear Skin.” Guthy- Renker, LLC, 2011

Kornstein, Susan G. MD. Journal of Women’s Health, 2012.

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*Individual results may vary