Acne Attack

It’s annoying, embarrassing and seemingly inescapable. After years of puberty, years that you know and accept will be filled with awkwardness – frizzy hair, crooked teeth, uneven and blotchy skin mired with pimples – years that you assume will one day come to an end. And they do – for about a minute.

Then it comes back. Maybe you’re in your twenties, shortly after college or perhaps its some thirty or forty years down the road, while in the midst of menopause when it happens: you are revisited by one of the trappings of your youth, adult acne.  Yes, acne. That potentially day-ruining, appearance marring bugger that hides in wait, surprising you by popping up beneath the skin on what always seem to be the most important days of your life.  Fortunately, the afflicted are not rare beings. In fact, adult acne is shockingly common among women, affecting 50% at some time in their adult lives.

Acne can range from a mere spot or two, to a large angry blemish, or a full-on breakout of pimples.

Though common, a solid cause for adult acne is difficult to nail down. However some factors that may tip the scales include hormones, cosmetics, stress and bacteria. Another cause may be sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin’s glands. Some women may also experience acne when pregnant or going through menopause, as their body undergoes extreme change during such times.  Depending on the type and degree of acne, treatments vary, but one of the easiest and most effective ways to cure it is almost identical to that of teenage acne – wash, medicate and moisturize.  To prevent and treat acne, begin with a mild cleanser in the morning, like Cetaphil. Gently wash your face for at least one minute to remove dirt and surface oils. Cleansing prepares your skin for treatment.  Next, apply an over the counter cream or lotion. Neutrogena works great, but it’s important try a few brands to find out what works with your skin. Look for one with benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient that oxygenates the skin, making it impossible for bacteria to thrive. To prevent discoloration or scarring, use products with salicylic or glycolic acids. Treatments with retinol do double duty, cleaning pores and reducing fine wrinkles. Apply either a thin layer over the surface of your face or dot on where necessary.  Once the ointment has a had a chance to soak in (5-10 minutes), apply a non-comodengenic moisturize to avoid dry skin, which can sometimes be a byproduct medicated acne treatments. Adult skin tends to be drier than teenage skin, so look for heavy duty lotions. Fine lines can also look less prominent when the skin is properly moisturized.

If after six to eight weeks of this regimen with little results, or if pimples become hard, large or refuse rise to the surface, it may be time to consult a dermatologist to get a prescribed treatment.

While it may seem like now, at 25 or 55, that you will have terrible, pimply skin forever; hope is not lost. Adult acne is just as treatable as it was in your teens. Just remember what you told your teenage self: this is just a phase, you get through it, and you will grow up to be pretty, powerful and possess a cute boyfriend. Most likely, you already are (but forget the boyfriend part, that’s way less important than clear skin).

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