Adult Acne and Aging: Coping With Acne Beyond Puberty

When you think of pimples and acne, the first image that usually comes to mind is the face of a teenager struggling with zits. A common misperception is that acne usually disappears after puberty. These days, adults with acne have become the norm.  In fact, recent statistics reported by the American Dermatology Association suggest that the median age for patients treated for acne has significantly increased over the last decade: from approximately 20.5 to 26.5 years of age. Doctors report that most adults (both men and women) who have experienced acne as teens (with oily skin prone to breakouts) are more likely to experience a reoccurrence in their adult life. 

Even more troubling are reports that doctors are increasingly treating acne flare-ups in patients in there 50’s and 60’s! Acne is now meeting the onset of wrinkles and menopause. This is very surprising – to say the least. As an adult with acne, you probably thought you’d be free of pimples after high school.  Perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at the causes of your acne and how you can banish acne for good.

Common Causes of Adult Acne

The main culprit responsible for teenage acne remains usually in place for adult acne. This leading factor is a hormonal imbalance resulting in too many androgens (male hormone testosterone) in the blood. This “overdose” of testosterone may over stimulate your sebaceous glands to produce more and more sebum. The sebum clogs the pores and also eagerly combines with dead skin cells, dirt and other skin debris creating a great environment for acne bacteria to thrive.

The result?  Inflammation, pimples, cysts, comedones and in a lighter form whiteheads and blackheads. The difference that underlines the differentiation between adult and adolescent hormonal imbalances is the different factors that may actually be creating this imbalance. For teens – this will be the formation and maturation of their adult sexual hormonal system.  For adults - This is what we will dive into here, as there are many additional factors you need to consider when dealing with adult acne. And a final note - adolescent acne and adult acne affect both women and men and are now unfortunately a daily predicament for millions of Americans and hundred of millions around the globe.  

Your Hormones Are To Blame

For women acne sufferers, the inflammation of an acne breakout may occur frequently during peri-menopause, but it also happens just before your period. It is during this time that the sebaceous glands over-respond to androgens, and this can extend well into adulthood. According to one study, women over the age of 33 are more likely to get premenstrual pimples than younger women. These acne occurrences usually “pop-up” in the form of deep (painful) cystic acne around the chin, neck, and back. In addition, drastic dieting, excessive exercise, sleep deprivation or even dramatic changes in lifestyle can aggravate acne in women. 

Over 35% of all adult acne sufferers are men and many of them also suffer from a hormonal imbalance (increase androgens/testosterone levels) due to the changes in their bodies due to aging, life style, excessive dieting and bodybuilding.  These factors can increase the free testosterone levels and as a result, over stimulate sebaceous glands to over produce sebum initiating the acne cascade. 

Your Stress Levels Are Too High 

If you’re waking up to pimples, chances are your everyday stress is starting to take a toll on you. When you’re stressed (or when your body is stressed as it often is in puberty), your adrenal gland creates the stress hormone cortisol and pumps it into the body to help cope with stress. Unfortunately, traces of testosterone (an androgen or male hormone) are emitted with the cortisol.  Testosterone in the skin can be metabolized to dihydrotestosterone, which causes the sebaceous glands to enlarge and increase sebum production. This can cause clogged pores where P. acnes bacteria (the bacteria responsible for acne) grows, leading to inflammation and pimples.

You May Have an Underlying Condition like Diabetes, High Testosterone or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). As we know, sugar increases the production of insulin, and the overproduction of insulin is known as diabetes. More and more evidence shows that insulin may also boost oil-triggering male hormones, which in turn can trigger excessive pore-clogging and inflammation. Other health issues with a hormonal component, such as high testosterone levels or polycystic ovarian syndrome, are often-overlooked causes of acne. PCOS affects 5 to 10% of women. Many women don’t even know they have it. If your acne is accompanied by excessive hair growth or irregular periods, it's worth talking to your doctor, who may do a blood test or ultrasound to determine whether or not you have PCOS.

You May Have A Super Acne Bug!

Super Acne? Seriously? The name sounds like something from a teenage nightmare. But this type of acne can be accompanied by cysts and nodules of 5mm or more in diameter, and having it can be socially debilitating. In worst cases, if left untreated, the Super Acne bug can cause infections all over the body. Severe P. acnes bacteria has also been associated with infections of artificial joints and heart valves (endocarditis), as well as eye infections and chest infections. Although it is often disregarded as a harmless bystander when found in blood and tissue swabs taken from patients, we should not rule out this bug in the diagnosis of disease.

Recent studies show that it might also be involved in other important conditions such as prostate cancer.  Even more frightening is its uber-resistance to antibiotics. When antibiotics are completely ineffective, the body is left defenseless against P. acnes bacteria and potentially other diseases. Acne sufferers may become desperate and try their hand at over-the-counter remedies that actually do not address causes of acne or try controversial prescription drugs like Diane 35 and Accutane (Diane 35 is not approved in the USA and due to the serious side effects (including stroke and death) has been taken off the market in a number of countries. Accutane is known as a vitamin A derivative that works by controlling the oil in the sebaceous glands. Accutane is part of a class of medications called retinoids and originally was marketed as a chemotherapy drug. Unfortunately, it’s been linked to suicides (especially in young males), the development of Crohn’s disease, and severe birth defects/malformations. Other adverse effects include peeling skin, dry eyes, and headaches. In 2009, as more and more lawsuits were filed, the FDA was forced to issue a black box warning, and eventually Accutane’s manufacturer stopped making the product all-together. Generic brands of the medication — Amnesteem, Claravis and Sotret – are still available, but with the risk of these scary side effects, why risk it?

You May be Taking Medications That Cause Adverse Effects

Unlike AcnEase, most acne medications are not natural and trigger adverse side effects. In fact, there is a list of medicines that are actually known to cause acne. Some medications that may cause acne inflammation include: 

  • Barbiturates – They are prescribed to treat anxiety, restlessness, and stress; and can trigger acne flare-ups
  • Corticosteroids – They provide great relief for eczema and hives, but act as synthetic hormones, which increase sebum production and acne.
  • Lithium – A mood stabilizer for people suffering from bipolar disorder or depression. People taking lithium have reported suffering from chest and back acne.
  • Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids: It’s usually associated with sports and body-building, and has been labeled as a performance-enhancing medication. Male users usually suffer from acne on the back, shoulders, and chest, while women users may be more prone to facial acne.
  • DHEA or Dehydroepiandrosterone – An anti-aging steroid also known as a steroid hormone because the body converts it into testosterone – which leads to more acne!

Remember:You should never switch or stop a medication without first speaking to your doctor. Your doctor will determine if the benefits of the medicine outweigh the cons. If not, he or she will recommend a medicine with less side effects.

Natural treatments like AcnEase are always a safe bet. Unlike its competitors, AcnEase is made of botanicals, is compatible with most medications, and works internally to relieve the causes of your acne (hormone imbalance, malnutrition, etc.), not just the symptoms. It has no side effects, has been clinically tested for efficacy and safety, and over 95% of AcnEase users see clear skin or a significant improvement in their breakouts in one month.  

So you tell us?  How long have you been struggling with acne and what have you done to get rid of it?  We’re here to help!


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