About Adult Acne
Most acne sufferers get relief when the hormones of adolescence settle down and adult life begins. But sometimes the condition affects adults, too--and often in severe form. Adult acne patients not only endure vexing, sometimes painful lesions, but also face a significant risk of scarring. The condition is, fortunately, amenable to treatment.
Hormonal fluctuations are often at the root of acne in adults, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Some women are prone to acne during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Medications can also cause acne as a side effect. Birth control pills are a common culprit, but others such as anticonvulsants, corticosteroids and sobriety drugs can be responsible, too. Other potential factors include genetics, stress and skin and hair products.
Sometimes the acne of adolescence continues on through to adulthood, in which case it is termed persistent acne. The pimples and nodules that form with this condition, which is more common in women, are frequently deep-seated, inflamed and painful, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The lesions tend to be in the mouth, chin and jawline areas. In some cases lesions form suddenly after years of clear skin in what is called late-onset acne. This problem, also more prevalent on women, can occur even in people who never experienced acne as teenagers.
Simple lifestyle and skin care changes may not be enough to eradicate adult acne, but they can help as you pursue other treatments. Since bacteria and oil are big contributors to acne, washing regularly with a mild facial cleanser is essential. Also, when choosing hair and skin products, buy only those that say "non-acnegenic" or "non-comedogenic" to make sure they do not contribute to your problems, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends. Some acne medications cause sun sensitivity, so it is important to wear sunscreen when you go outside. And refrain from picking or squeezing lesions, since it can cause further flare-ups and scarring.
A variety of topical products, including creams and solutions, are available to treat adult acne. Treatments containing benzoyl peroxide are sold over the counter. Those with antibiotics and retinoids require a prescription in the United States. Oral medications for acne, available by prescription, include antibiotics, isotretinoin and, for those experiencing hormonal fluctuations, spironolactone, certain oral contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. For severe cystic lesions, a doctor can inject a corticosteroid or even lance and drain the lesion.
Adult acne sometimes suggests an underlying medical condition. Women who have the condition in conjunction with excess facial hair, thinning hair on the head and irregular or absent menstruation could have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is associated with infertility, diabetes and heart disease. Acne can also, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, be a warning sign of adrenal hyperplasia or a tumor.
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