Once thought of as an adolescent and teen problem, adult acne is caused by a variety of factors according to dermatologists – including hormones released by increased stress, premenstrual hormones, or environmental pollution. Unfortunately, acne is not a problem strictly for youth. Five percent of women in their 40’s have acne severe enough to require medical treatment. Despite being non-life threatening, chronic cystic acne and the scarring could lead to trauma to the skin.
Almost all people have experienced or are experiencing acne. Approximately eight out of ten people have suffered with acne. Acne usually develops in early adolescence, and most people (approximately 85%) will outgrow it by the time they reach their mid-twenties. While this is true for most people, some will continue to have acne throughout their adult years (approximately 11%). Some adults will develop acne in their thirties and forties, never having experienced acne as a teenager. Generally speaking, women will experience acne more than men, due to fluctuations in hormonal levels throughout their lives.
Cleansing is the single most important method of treating and controlling acne. The first step, face washing, should be done at least twice a day, with a mild cleanser. Exfoliating your skin using an antiseptic cleaner is the second step. This will remove dead skin cells, sebum and other impurities. Mechanical exfoliation (abrasive cleansers, or facial exfoliating pads) should be used with great caution as overuse can cause excessive skin irritation and can rupture acne lesions, causing more irritation. If medication is prescribed for your skin, follow all the instructions given to you by your doctor. Using more does not mean getting faster results, but rather wasting your prescription. Using less will sometimes not give the desired results.
Topical therapy is most often used when acne is mild to moderate, without inflammation present. Sometimes topical therapies will be used in conjunction with other acne treatments. Tretinoin is a member of a class of drugs called topical retinoids (vitamin A creams). They are effective in keeping the pores clear from buildup of oil and discarded skin cells. Tretinoins will also work to break down existing acne/blocked pores. This treatment is very good for oily skin types. It can, however, cause excessive drying and flaking of your skin. Topical antibiotics will reduce the bacteria found on the skin and within the hair follicle. They will not break down existing acne, but rather work at preventing new acne. They have no effect on blackheads. Benzoyl peroxide is a common treatment for acne. It works by drying the area it is applied to, causing the exfoliation of squamous cells. It is sometimes in the form of a lotion, to be applied directly to the acne, or it can be an ingredient in a facial wash. Benzoyl peroxide can sometimes cause bleaching (hypopigmentation) or darkening (hyperpigmentation) to the areas to which it is applied. People who have sensitive skin may want to try starting new treatments at night.
Other new treatments that have proven to be successful are: Blu-U Light treatments, PDT Photodynamic Therapy and Silkpeel Microdermabrasion. Dr. Snyman will evaluate your acne and create a custom designed treatment program for your individual skin and acne. For additional information, please contact our office.