While adult acne and juvenile acne involve infections generated by the same bacteria, skin conditions can be very different requiring different forms of acne treatment. Factors that stimulate adult acne are frequently different than those involved with juvenile acne, acne vulgaris, cystic acne, blackheads, whiteheads, or milia.
Adult onset acne (acne that begins in the adult years) usually involves normal or combination skin or even dry and/or sensitive skin, rather than the oily skin that is typical of juvenile acne. Most acne products, however, are developed for juvenile acne and contain high concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, azelaic acid and other agents that can be excessively drying and potentially irritating to adult skin. Adult skin may not tolerate persistent use of these acne treatment agents and skin sensitivity may become problematic.
Adult acne occurs in as many as 50% of women in their 20’s and 35% of women in their 30’s, which is a significantly higher rate than seen in males. While many of the same factors that cause acne in teens play a role, hormonal levels, specifically testosterone, can be the primary cause of adult acne. Typically, adult acne tends to be mostly on the lower face, along the jaw line and neck, rather than the forehead and cheeks as is often the case with teenage acne. Hormonal fluctuations, especially just prior to, and during menses, make women more prone to breakouts than men. (See Female Acne Issues for additional information)
Acne and Premature Skin Aging
Adult acne infections stimulate skin production of hydrogen peroxide which generates volumes of free radicals. The chemical rebuilding involved in healing infections and repairing the skin damage caused by infections, also generates volumes of free radicals. In this manner, adult acne causes premature aging of the skin, just like the volumes of free radicals caused by sun exposure. Control of adult acne is not only important to the appearance of the skin today, it is an important strategy to prevent the premature aging of the skin. If skin damage has already become a problem, achieve control of the adult acne first and once this is accomplished, address the issue of skin rejuvenation.
Benzoyl Peroxide and Premature Skin Aging
Benzoyl peroxide creates free radicals in the skin and is known to cause premature skin aging, just like repeated sun exposure or persistent adult acne. Damage is determined by the concentration of benzoyl peroxide and the frequency of use. In June of 2014 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that the use of certain acne products containing the active ingredient benzoyl peroxide can cause rare but serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions or severe irritation. Benzoyl peroxide products must state that they should be used with sunscreen as well as outline new warnings, such as the products should not be used on broken skin or warnings about potential skin irritation. BiON does not use benzoyl peroxide or any other ingredient that might damage or prematurely age the skin. (See the Acne Tips and Benzoyl Peroxide Skin Damage pages for additional information.)
Causes of Adult Acne
There are a number of factors that may initiate adult acne. Stress can be a major factor, via the production of cortisol, a steroidal hormone that promotes adult acne. Coffee consumption, like stress, promotes the production of cortisol. Adult acne can be caused by sebum. Sebum clogs pores, which become inflamed due to bacteria. For most adults, breakouts are a result of hypersensitivity to androgens (male hormones). But an imbalance in both male and female hormones (estrogen) can also cause breakouts. For women, this can happen during pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause. Other issues may be involved, such as smoking, low consumption of free fatty acids, foods with a high glycemic content, like packaged foods as well as pasta, bread, and rice, and foods that are heavy in hormones, like dairy products. Achieve control of adult acne with BiON acne products and reduce those factors that may promote a recurrence of acne. Long term use of antibiotics, both orally and topically, can lead to resistance which can lead to continued adult acne that is far more difficult to treat. (See the Acne Tips page for additional information on factors that promote acne.)
If follicle congestion, whiteheads, milia, and/or blackheads are involved refer to the page on Acne & Essential Fatty Acids as this could be a factor in the development of adult acne on-set.