Acne Treatment for Adult Females
Acne ranks as the most common skin condition occurring in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), with around 40 to 50 million people suffering from it at any given time. Although acne mainly plagues young adults and teenagers, adult women get pimples too. In this case, the culprit often is hormones. Fortunately, the AAD says that dermatologists have a variety of treatments for acne in adult females.
Acne occurs when three things go wrong in the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. First, the skin's oil-producing glands, known as sebaceous glands, produce too much oil. Next, the skin begins shedding its dead skin cells irregularly, which leads to some irritation in the minute hair follicles at the skin's surface. Finally, bacteria begins to build up, proliferating in the oily environment. As a result, pores clog, the skin becomes infected and inflamed and pimples erupt.
Hormones likely play a significant role in acne's development, according to the Mayo Clinic. Hormones called androgens, which include "male" hormones such as testosterone, trigger the sebaceous glands to produce oil. If a woman has a surplus of these male hormones, she often has too much oil and gets pimples. In addition, hormonal fluctuations can lead to acne; for example, it's not unusual to have a breakout right before your period or during pregnancy.
The AAD says that adult acne often is more stubborn and difficult to treat than teenage acne. Dermatologists, however, do offer effective therapies. Treatment often starts with topical products that contain benzoyl peroxide, a well-known acne fighter, along with an antimicrobial, such as erythromycin. Dermatologists also may recommend adult women use a tretinoin cream such as Retin-A. This has the added benefits of smoothing skin and reducing fine wrinkles along with fighting acne.
If these treatments fail to solve the acne problem, then the dermatologist may turn to physical procedures such as laser treatments to rid the patient of acne blemishes. The physician might also consider prescribing potent oral prescription drugs. These can include antibiotics to fight the infection or a medication called oral isotretinoin, which is only prescribed for severe acne when nothing else works. Oral isotretinoin cannot be prescribed for pregnant women, however, and women who are taking it must be on two forms of birth control due to the high risk of birth defects.
Adult women whose acne is resistant to first-line treatments may want to consider oral contraceptives. Several brands of birth control pills have been proven effective in curbing the hormonal swings that play a role in acne development. Oral contraceptives, however, aren't considered to be the first line of defense against acne, and most dermatologists will want to try other treatments before deciding to prescribe birth control pills.
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