The Doctor Is In - Cosmetics Magazine July/August 2005
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The Doctor Is In: Adult Acne Solutions

by Alix Fuller 

Cosmetics: What causes adult acne? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: A combination of things, such as hormonal factors, stress, the environment, pregnancy and the use of anti-aging products. 

Cosmetics: If you had acne as a teen, are you more likely to get it later? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Not necessarily. In fact, many of my adult patients with acne didn’t experience significant acne as teens. 

Cosmetics: Are the symptoms the same? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: It looks the same in that there are blackheads, whiteheads and papules (red bumps) but in the distribution is different. Teens often have acne in the T-zone, whereas adult acne is commonly found on the chin, jaw line and neck. 

Cosmetics: Should an adult use over- the- counter products targeted at teens? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: No. Adult skin is different. It tends to be less oily than adolescent skin, so many products designed for teens end up causing dryness and irritation. Furthermore, these products usually don’t have any anti-aging components, which adults often prefer. I design individual programs for my adult acne. 

Cosmetics: What type of product and what active ingredient is best for adult acne? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: The best way is to use a skin care regime that combines anti-acne and anti-aging ingredients. This is what I prefer:

  • An exfoliating cleanser to rid skin of dead cells and debris.
  • A benzoyl peroxide in a moisturizing base to target the bacteria that causes acne.
  • A gel moisturizer with an antioxidant that heals skin and fights signs of aging.
  • A masque with vitamin A and salicylic acid, which acts to make skin less prone to blackheads and whitehead formation.

These ingredients have also been useful in treatment of aging skin. 

Cosmetics: What else can you do to control acne? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Be ultra cautious about the products you use anything applied to the face, including sunscreen and makeup, should be water- based and oil-free. 

Cosmetics: Acne on the back is something men seem to suffer from, particularly in the summer. What’s the best way to handle that? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: I give my male patients a prescription for a medicated soap with benzoyl peroxide as it is very easy to use and most of them are very compliant with the idea. Sometimes, in more severe cases, an oral antibiotic or accutane may be necessary. 

Cosmetics: How do you know when it is time to seek professional help? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: See your dermatologist right away if:

  • You’ve given an over the counter treatment a good try for eight weeks and see no result.
  • There is scarring – scarring can be permanent, but with prompt, good treatment, we can prevent that.
  • You’re a female and your acne is associated with hair growth on the face, chest or back, irregular periods or scalp hair loss. This might indicate a hormonal problem or possibly an ovarian tumor.
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