Today, we want to find the cause of adult acne more than ever, but it is by no means a new phenomenon. Traditionally associated with puberty during the awkward teen years, acne has now been recognized as a skin disease that lasts well into the adult years.
Some people are not able to escape the acne they developed from their teenage years (persistent acne). And others, who never had a single whitehead, blackhead, pimple, or imperfection all throughout their childhood and teens, suddenly experience the worst acne imaginable (late onset acne). So what might be the cause of adult acne?
Some immediate factors that are often blamed as the cause of adult acne include hormonal imbalances and stress.
It makes sense that the percentage of adult women who get acne is higher than men because of the hormonal changes that women experience. Think about the many internal changes women experience: monthly menstrual cycles, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, and menopause. With all these life-changing events and phases, its no wonder women are more prone to acne!
And with the onset of stress from managing careers, family life, and the overall fast-paced lifestyles, the adrenal glands (hormones that trigger oil production) are working overtime. This added stress can be a factor for acne in both men and women.
Genetics play a role as well. Studies have shown that if either of your biological parents or siblings have or had acne, you have a 25% chance of developing it as well. This still doesn’t get to the root cause since there has been no DNA link to acne.
One study found that mild acne leaped from 35% to 54% over 17 years. Another study found that roughly during the same time period, occurrences of serious acne in women rose from 10% in 1979 to 14% in 1996.
Why might adult acne be on the rise? Could it be increased pollution? Increased emotional stress? Unhealthy diets? Unhealthy lifestyles? There are changes that health experts are researching more and more, and are finding connections to. However, the studies are few and more evidence will have to be found before western practitioners will accept a link between acne and food.
Research conducted today shows that the acne adults get is more stubborn and resistant than acne during childhood or even in adolescents. They are deeper, return more easily, and don’t heal as quickly as they would in children or teens. In one study of adult women, 88% did not respond to oral antibiotics, and 33% did not respond to the powerful drug Accutane.
Acne is referred to as a “multifactorial” disease. It is a disease that is attributed to many causes. There hasn’t been one single cause of adult acne that could be isolated by itself.
Dermatologists do agree that treating adult acne is tricky. Both you and your skin expert, whomever you choose, will need the patience to go through months, and perhaps years, of trial and error testing before you find the right combination of acne treatments that work for your skin. Even then you may not discover the cause of adult acne.
If you don’t yet have a plan of attack against your acne, read the free acne guide to get some help.
Source: Shaw, James C., and L. White. “Persistent Acne in Adult Women.” Arch Derm. 137.9 (2001): 1252-53.
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