Acne at a Mature Age
It's no secret that teenagers get acne more often than adults. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that almost nine out of every 10 teens will have pimples this year. However, acne can occur at any age, the AAD says. Adult acne can be especially stubborn and difficult to treat, too. However, if you're stricken by acne at a mature age, your dermatologist can help you clear your skin.
Acne primarily results from shifts and fluctuations in the levels of hormones known as androgens. Androgens, which are "male"-type hormones, such as testosterone, can stimulate the skin to produce sebum, a lubricating oil. Too much sebum leads to clogged pores and potentially even bacterial infection. Common acne normally includes blackheads and whiteheads along with small pimples, while severe acne can include bacterial infection and cysts below the skin's surface. Either can occur in older people.
Although teenagers have the worst hormonal swings, women often experience these swings and consequently get acne breakouts right before their periods and even during menopause. That doesn't mean they have abnormal hormone levels--the Mayo Clinic reports that the majority of people who experience acne at a mature age have normal hormones. Instead, they might have skin that reacts to their hormonal shifts by producing too much oil.
The AAD reports that it's more difficult to treat adult acne than many cases of teenage acne. In many cases, you'll need a combination of different treatments to combat various underlying acne causes. Prescriptions that can help mature acne sufferers include topical antimicrobial products to fight bacterial infection. In addition, your physician might prescribe a form of vitamin A called a retinoid to help clear your pores. These products, which include tretinoin and tazarotene, have the added benefit of helping you shed fine wrinkles and look younger by encouraging new skin to form. Retin-A is a well-known example of a prescription retinoid.
Some dermatologist-provided procedures potentially can help you combat adult acne, according to the AAD. If you have severe lesions, your dermatologist may recommend injections containing a corticosteroid solution to help them clear quickly and reduce the chances they'll leave scars. Some dermatologists also recommend laser treatments and chemical peels to treat adult acne, although the AAD cautions that these haven't been studied thoroughly in mature patients.
Acne can cause distress at any age, but adult acne sufferers may suffer more than teens. To clear your adult acne, you'll need to practice proper skin care, which means using only gentle cleansers and avoiding aggressive, vigorous scrubbing. In addition, even if you have pimple-like lesions, you might not have acne. Especially in older individuals, conditions such as rosacea can masquerade as common acne. If your pimples fail to clear quickly, you might want to consider talking to a dermatologist about your skin.
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