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Adult acne explained: should we be treating adult acne differently to teen acne?

Published: Wed February 22, 2017
Categories: The Myth Minx

Let’s start by explaining the difference between adolescent acne and adult acne. 

There are two main distinguishing features between teenage and adult acne:

  1. Location on face
  2. Oil content of skin

Firstly, acne experienced as a teen can be seen widespread over the face (eg. cheeks, forehead etc) and is more common through the T-zone.  Whereas, adult acne is generally localised within lower parts of the face such as; on the chin, around the mouth and along the jawline.

Secondly, the oil content of a teenage skin is quite different to 30 year old skin. Teens often have higher oil flow and slightly thicker skin while an adult will have less oil content in the skin creating a slightly more sensitive skin if using harsh acne products (that have been designed for teenage acne). 

Adult acne tends to be very cyclical (eg. monthly flare ups due to hormonal changes) and can be more inflammatory than teen acne. There are also more hormone-altering influences that perpetuate adult acne. Check out MMs previous blog on causes of adult acne to delve further into the hormonal influences: https://www.skinstitut.com/blog/post/clearing-what-is-causing-adult-acne

These differences highlight why treatment options would vary for adult acne vs teen acne. For adult women, the focus needs to be on reducing inflammation (to prevent scarring) using an approach that won’t dry out or sensitise the skin too much.

Let’s just take a moment to discuss scarring. Unfortunately, the odds aren’t in our favour when it comes to adult acne and scarring. This is due to the increased inflammation that is present in the skin on an ongoing basis. Inflammation forms part of the natural response of our body necessary to help heal a breakout. The greater the inflammation in the skin, the greater the risk of scarring. If an acne lesion is quite superficial the inflammation caused may result in a darkening of tissue (due to over stimulation of melanin producing cells in our epidermis). 

If an acne lesion is considerably inflamed the body works hard to fight the infection then heal and repair the tissue that may have been damaged by a ruptured follicle. To do this collagen needs to be produced in the dermis. Too much collagen produced can result in raised, uneven skin tone or on the flip side; insufficient collagen remodelling can lead to depressed areas of skin, appearing as typical pitted acne scarring. 

Homecare tips for adult acne

  1. Control inflammation where possible - use Skinstitut Laser Aid as an anti-inflammatory mask or moisturiser. Not only will this help to control redness and swelling, the addition of Canadian Willowherb helps to reduce p.acnes bacteria.
  2. Always exfoliate, being sure to avoid aggravating inflamed breakouts. Try using Enzymatic Micro Peel as your exfoliant. Its calming, healing and repairing properties will assist to alleviate inflammation and will not irritate the skin. 
  3. Invest in a treatment cleanser – using a treatment cleanser once per day that gently exfoliates can speed recovery, MM loves Glycolic Cleanser 12%, it’s perfect for controlling hormonal breakouts and the addition of Vitamin B5 helps to reduce redness and inflammation (please note, if your skin is ultra-sensitive you will benefit from a lower intensity cleanser)
  4. Use vitamin A - Skinstitut Retinol is a must-have especially for adult acne sufferers. The encapsulated Retinol has been designed to reduce irritation and sensitivity in the skin plus it has the ability to help down regulate oil production thereby reducing the likelihood of breakouts. The anti-ageing properties make this correcting serum the perfect 2 in 1 product. 

Lifestyle tips for adult acne:

  • Limit caffeine intake – caffeine can elevate cortisol levels (hormone involved in acne progression)
  • Load the diet with anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids – plenty of fish, nuts, seeds and good oils (avocado; coconut; flaxseed)
  • Limit high intake of dairy (this can exacerbate inflammation)
  • Limit high sugar foods (sugar increases inflammation)
  • Work on controlling stress – this is a major trigger for adult acne
  • Minimise alcohol intake (it is nutritionally void and high in sugar – increasing inflammation)
  • Increase water intake, allowing your liver and kidneys to do their job and efficiently remove hormones from the body
  • Aim for 7 – 8 hours of restful sleep each night (while we are sleeping our body is producing needed hormones) – can’t sleep? Try switching off the phone earlier, drinking chamomile tea or practice mindfulness

To successfully treat adult acne, a comprehensive holistic approach is needed; a dedicated focus on lifestyle modification, homecare regime and in clinic treatments delivers results

For a customized homecare regime and treatment plan visit a highly trained skin expert who specialises in holistic skin analysis. Use the Skinstitut stockist locator to find the nearest expert to you: https://www.skinstitut.com/stockist

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