Bad Adult Acne
Although most people who suffer from pimples are in their teen years, adults in their 20s, 30s, 40s and even older can get acne, too. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, adult acne can be extremely stubborn. Bad adult acne often leads to permanent scarring and skin discoloration that can last for years. However, dermatologists can clear most cases of bad adult acne, usually using two or more different kinds of acne treatments.
Hormones cause acne, which is why teenagers get it so frequently. According to the Cleveland Clinic, levels of hormones called androgens, which are male-type hormones, can stimulate the skin's oil-producing glands to make too much oil. The oil, plus dead skin cells, form plugs in pores and irritate hair follicles. Bacteria that normally live on and in the skin then begin to reproduce too quickly, leading to infection. Some adults who have bad adult acne suffer from abnormal hormone levels. In most cases, however, their hormones are normal, but their sebaceous glands are overly sensitive to hormonal stimulation, and react by making too much oil.
Dermatologists normally fight bad adult acne with prescription medications, according to the AAD. Creams and lotions that combine proven acne fighter benzoyl peroxide with a medication to control acne-causing bacteria, such as the antibiotic clindamycin, can work well on bad adult acne. In addition, topical versions of vitamin A, such as the popular acne medication Retin-A, can help to clear pores in adult acne and have the added benefit of helping to erase wrinkles. If your bad adult acne fails to clear with topical medications, your dermatologist may recommend an oral antibiotic to fight infection.
Since bad adult acne often results from hormonal swings, your dermatologist might prescribe an oral medication designed to stop those swings, according to the AAD. For women, oral contraceptives can effectively calm hormones, leading to acne clearing, although they take up to six months to work. Some dermatologists also use hormone replacement therapy to regulate hormones and stop acne lesions from forming. And in especially tough cases, your dermatologist may prescribe oral isotretinoin, which can cure almost any case of acne but which carries a risk of major side effects, including serious birth defects and depression.
Physical procedures such as laser and light treatments have gained popularity in fighting acne, but the AAD says they're unproven in fighting bad adult acne. If you have a particularly nasty acne cyst, your dermatologist may inject it with a diluted corticosteroid in order to clear it up fast and keep it from leaving a scar. You might also opt for a light chemical peel, which can loosen the blockages in your pores and help to prevent new lesions from forming.
Bad adult acne can be tough to treat, but if you don't get it under control, you risk scars, according to the AAD. To make any treatment you try more effective, you should practice good skin care, which means washing your skin gently and avoiding hard scrubbing. Also, use only makeup and other skin products that state specifically that they don't promote acne formation, the AAD recommends.
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