For years, acne was thought of as a teenage condition – the result of surging hormones and bad diet. Over-the-counter remedies featured smiling teens on the packaging and formulas were aggressively strong in fighting over oily skin conditions. Then, something began to change. Adults began having breakouts into their twenties and thirties in increasing numbers. Scientists hypothesized that stress, pollution and diet had something to do with it. But the trend continues. Today, doctors estimate that 70 percent of North American will suffer some type of acne throughout their life. Here, Dr. Lisa Kellett, one of Canada’s foremost experts on adult acne, explains the condition.
Cosmetics Magazine: How many people suffer from acne?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: According to the Academy of Dermatology, 70 million adult Americans will suffer from acne – more than 50% of women and 25% of men.
Cosmetics: What causes adult acne and where does it mostly appear?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: The cause of adult acne is thought to be multi-factorial including stress, environment toxins, genetics, hormonal changes and the use of anti-aging products. Whatever the reason, it is a painful and frustrating experience. Adult acne often occurs on different parts of the face such as the chin, jaw, and temples. Teenage acne, in the comparison, is found in the oily facial T-zone.
Cosmetics: What adult acne treatments are available?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: There are many treatments available ranging from over the counter treatments to prescription medications. Unfortunately, many of these aren’t designed for adult skin or sensitive skin and might result in flaking, redness and irritation. Some designed for teenagers are very strong to combat excessive oil production and can seriously irritate adult skin. Oral medications for acne consist of antibiotics and Accutane but these have been associated with a number of side effects including blood, liver and kidney problems. There are also new laser light treatments that can help.
Cosmetics: How do I know if it is hormones causing adult acne?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: A hormone problem is most likely the cause of your acne if you also have problems with scalp loss, an increase of hair growth on your face, chest or back and irregular periods in women. If you have any of these problems, you should see your doctor.
Cosmetics: What happens if you pick acne?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Often, picking, popping, or picking your acne bumps will cause more scarring than the acne itself. It can even result in an infection. The best thing to do is keep your hands off and use acne products formulated for adults.
Cosmetics: What can be done about acne scarring?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: There are number of treatments available for scarring: laser treatments, intense pulsed light and injectable fillers. In general, glycolic acid peels and Microdermabrasion will result in only minimal improvement in scarring.