Pimples, greasy red skin, blackheads, whiteheads… these are the most common associations made with acne. Most of us either experienced it as teenagers or know someone that did. However, for some, acne is not confined to adolescence but is a condition that continues into adulthood. This article will state the facts about adult acne and offer advice on how to treat it.
What is acne?
Most common during puberty due to hormonal shifts, acne is a condition which affects the pores when hair follicles get blocked. This causes a bacterial infection due to the excess oil produced by the sebaceous gland.
The symptoms of acne are:
• Red inflamed pustules
• Blackheads (plugged open pores)
• Whiteheads (plugged closed pores)
• Cysts (painful large fluid filled bumps)
Differences between adult and teenage acne:
On the surface, adult acne is caused by the same basic problem as teenage acne (over-production of sebum), however, teenage acne is usually due to hormonal changes. The causes of this over-production of sebum in adulthood can vary as it can be due to one or a combination of:
• Irregular periods;
• Glands becoming sensitive and the body becoming less effective
at breaking down sugars and fats than when you are younger;
• Low vitamin intake.
Although there are some differences in the causes of adult and teenage acne, this does not mean that you have to use different treatments. In general, teenagers have more resilient skin and are better able to bounce back after a bad blemish than an adult. The concern with adult acne is that the skin is more susceptible to damage as it is slower at repairing itself. As a result, the adult acne sufferer should avoid medical treatments and try salon or alternative remedies which will deal with the root problem without side effects.
There are three types of treatments for acne, whether adult or puberty-related: medical, salon or homeopathic.
With medical treatment, the doctor will normally discuss which products (soaps and lotions) you should or should not use, then prescribe mild to strong cream or tablets. Many of these can have side effects so must be used with caution. Very serious acne with large, painful cysts that do not respond to medication may require surgery to drain and extract. This is usually carried out by a dermatologist.
Being a therapist, I have seen all sorts of skin conditions and adult acne is not something difficult to treat. Every salon has its own treatments, however a good one will tell you exactly what they are going to do and what they are putting on your skin. The salon should offer you a series of skin treatments and homecare products. Depending on the severity of the acne, it is more than likely that you will need 3-6 skin treatments.
Treatment may not necessarily be a facial; it will most likely be a skin peel with a particular ph level. Skin peels are quite good for acne as they stimulate healthy new skin growth by using an unabrasive but natural sloughing off of dead skin cells.
Homeopathy tablets are now widely available online and also in herbal medicine stores. Here are just a few that help cure acne:
• Arnica Montana CH9 or C6: for painful acne.
• Hepar Sulfur CH15 or C12: for inflamed, slow healing, big/deep
pimples under the skin.
• Ledum C6 or CH9: for pus-filled acne on the cheeks and nose.
• Pulsatilla C6 or CH9: for acne associated with hormonal changes.
• Kalium bromatum C6 or CH9: for acne that is itchy & stinging.
Additionally, you can try and use:
• Aloe Vera juice to clean your body internally.
• Calendula cream to apply to affected areas.
• Tea tree oil to kill the bacteria.
• Atlas cedar-wood essential oil, which helps with acne in general.
• Have a more healthy diet with about 7 fruit and vegetables a day
as this will help clear out your body, thus making your skin
healthier and more able to fight the acne.
So now that you have the low down on adult acne, you can try and help yourself or others to deal with it. Bear in mind that not everyone will respond to the same treatment – something that may work for one person may not necessarily work for another so it is important to have a skin consultation with a skin specialist to give you some guidance on treating your own acne.
Shadiyah Marshall is a Psychology graduate and owner of www.sistersbeautique.com