Four Skin Conditions That Become More Common as You Age
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Aging doesn't happen over night—instead, the signs manifest over time. The same can be said of the skin conditions that creep up on us as we age: An odd pimple here, a too-long blush there, and before you know, you're dealing with different skin entirely (or at least what seems like it). To help you monitor these shifts, we tapped board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green to explain the most common skin conditions that can get their start later in life, from adult acne to eczema.
We often assume that, once high school is behind us, so is acne. Unfortunately, says Dr. Green, this couldn't be further from the truth. "Hormones, stress, and environmental factors are the three of the top causes of adult acne," she explains. "Hormonal acne is exactly what it implies: Acne caused by fluctuations in hormones—predominantly estrogen and progesterone levels." Chronic blemishes often set in around menopause, when your body changes drastically. To determine whether or not the zits you are experiencing is hormonally driven, note their location and the timing (did the issue begin when you started missing periods?). Breakouts "along your jaw and chin area," which consist painful, cystic bumps—and lead to an oily-looking jawline—are, more often than not, caused by a hormonal imbalance, affirms Dr. Green.
Often misconstrued for adult acne, rosacea—another skin condition that rears its head as we age—is defined by intense periods of flushing, leading to persistent redness of the cheeks. "This redness presents as flare ups, which come and go," Dr. Green explains. "Symptoms include redness, pustules, and tiny red blood vessels on the cheeks." In addition to redness, Dr. Green notes that some women dealing with rosacea may experience dryness or irritation around the eyes and nose; ocular involvement can occur. While the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, Dr. Green says that certain foods—like alcohol, tomatoes, or anything spicy—along with extremely cold or hot temperatures can cause a flare. And since there's no known cause, there's also no direct cure. With that said, opting for fragrance-free products, testing out topical prescriptions, such as Mirvaso, and undergoing laser therapy can help.
The number one reason our skin starts to visibly age? Exposure to the sun. According to Dr. Green adds that the number of melanosomes—an organelle responsible for storing and transporting melanin—in your skin is also a factor. "If an area of the skin has an overabundance of melanosomes, that area will be darker and is more prone to hyperpigmentation," she explains. To address dark spots, add vitamin C and alpha hydroxy acids into your routine; to prevent them, never go a day without sunscreen.
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a skin condition that results in incredibly dry skin all over the body—and is often accompanied by a rash. Since our hydration levels decrease with age, we become more eczema-prone over time. Thankfully, Dr. Green says that this ailment can be managed by prioritizing proper skin care. Avoid ultra-hot showers and baths and embrace colloidal oatmeal moisturizers and humidifiers to keep this condition at bay.