Many people have the mistaken notion that acne is a problem for adolescents, not adults. But adults in their twenties and thirties often have acne, and the condition can easily recur throughout all of middle age. Unlike the typical acne in puberty, a condition caused by excess sebum, adult acne also affects dry skin and combination skin. The best treatments to prevent and manage adult acne vary for different skin types. Severe cases may require dermatological treatment, while daily care with cosmetics and lifestyle modifications will generally prevent milder cases.
Four types of acne
There are two main types of acne spots: those that are inflamed and those that are not. The latter type, acne spots without inflammation, are “whiteheads” and “blackheads.” A whitehead forms when a pore clogs with sebum. The sebum solidifies inside the pore and narrows and whitens the pore at the tip. A blackhead forms when the sebum at the tip of a whitehead oxidizes, hardens, and blackens.
Inflamed acne spots take two forms: “red acne” (papules) and “yellow acne” (pustules). Red acne appears when whiteheads and blackheads become inflamed. Yellow acne appears later, when the inflammation extends deeper inside the skin.
Whiteheads and blackheads can be managed by daily skincare routines. Red acne and yellow acne require more specialized treatments, and direct application of cosmetics on these areas should be avoided.
The causes of acne
Acne during puberty is caused by an increase in the secretions of male hormones. These hormones stimulate the generation of excess sebum, which thickens into horny matter and blocks the pores. Adult acne develops through a slightly different mechanism. Adult acne, which can also appear on dry skin, result mainly from disturbances in skin metabolism that promote the accumulation of old horny matter. The thickening of the horny layer results in a narrowing of the pores that prevents a smooth discharge of sebum. When shifts in the hormonal balance promote the secretion of sebum, rising levels of accumulated sebum create an environment conducive to acne.
The skin metabolism can be easily disrupted by your lifestyle. Try to avoid stresses and lack of sleep if your skin is prone to acne. Fat and sugar consumed in excess can also increase oily secretions, as both are raw materials used by the body to produce sebum. Exercise also improves acne, as sugar and fat burned as fuel have no opportunity to convert to sebum and subcutaneous fat.
Skincare advice for the prevention of adult acne
Acne is more likely to appear when impurities from makeup clog the pores. The best treatment for this type of acne is double cleansing, a skincare routine with cleanser and soap or facial wash to rid the skin of both oily dirt (sebum, makeup) and aqueous dirt (horny matter).
More information on double cleansing is here.
Cosmetics with anti-bacterial ingredients help to discourage the spread of bacteria on skin.
Softening horny matter
Regular facial cleansing and double moisturizing are the first choices to care for acne skin by softening horny matter, thereby relieving clogged pores and easing the secretion of sebum.
Facial cleansing helps to soften horny matter by purging the skin of excess sebum and old horny matter. The use of a softening lotion after facial cleansing (before double moisturizing) softens the skin surface and optimiszes the effect of subsequent skincare items.
More information on double moisturizing is here.
- Wellness advice:
- Lack of sleep impairs immune resistance and can easily aggravate acne. Sufficient sleep and a regular, healthy rhythm in everyday life are essential.
- Try not to consume too much fatty food, sugar, caffeine, and other stimulating drinks or spices. Vitamin B2 regulates the secretion of sebum, while Vitamin C helps beautify the skin by obscuring acne scars and boosting the generation of collagen. When possible, choose foods that contain these nutrients.
Vitamin B2: Liver, seafood, milk and dairy products, eggs, mushrooms, etc.
Vitamin C: Peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kiwi fruits, oranges, strawberries, etc.
- Recurring constipation worsens the intestinal environment and makes the skin more susceptible to boils and acne. Prevent constipation by avoiding stress and getting enough exercise.