Five Tips to Help You Cope with Late-Onset Adult Acne

This can be especially tough to handle if you never experienced blemishes as a teen.

Coming to terms with late-onset adult acne, which typically hits after the age of 25, can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you managed to make it through your teenage years sans any blemishes. When zits strike later in life—beyond the confines of when you are "expected" to experience them—they can be difficult to treat and cope with. Understanding why these pimples happen, however, often helps in managing them, both physically and emotionally.

woman popping pimple on face looking in mirror
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Identify the root cause.

Usually, biological processes like menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause are the most common causes of late-onset adult acne; other things, including lifestyle choices and environmental stressors, can also exacerbate symptoms. "Acne is caused by a combination of several factors, all ultimately determined by your genetics," explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner. To get to the root of the problem, it's best to see a dermatologist—he or she can identify the cause of your acne and determine the best course of treatment.

Your hormones are likely to blame.

"For women, hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle play a pivotal role in contributing to adult acne," adds Dr. Zeichner. These internal level changes can ramp up your skin's production of sebum—an oily substance produced by your sebaceous glands—which can lead to acne. Certain hormone imbalances also occur during pregnancy and menopause; these typically cause acne and cystic pimples to pop up around the jawline.

Try not to stress...

We know it's easier said than done, but actively managing your stress levels can help reduce acne flare-ups. There's a key reason for this: When your body responds to a stressor, it produces more androgens (a hormone type), notes the American Academy of Dermatology. These hormones stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in your skin, leading to—you guessed it—acne. As for chronic stress? Your hormones will go into overdrive, making it difficult to keep persistent acne at bay.

...and definitely don't pick.

As tempting as it may be to take matters into your own hands (literally), picking at your face will only make acne worse. Touching and irritating your breakouts make current pimples more inflamed and cause new pimples to rear their heads. Certain treatments, like pimple patches and hydrocolloid bandages, can be effective in spot-treating acne and curbing the urge to pick.

Opt for a prescription-based treatment plan.

Many topical treatments have proven to be highly effective in combating late-onset acne. "Traditional acne fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are extremely effective in drying out pimples and minimizing inflammation in the skin," says Dr. Zeichner. If you suffer from acne and sensitive skin, look to prescription-strength retinoids like Altreno that are formulated to fight acne, while minimizing the irritating effects of retinol. For hormonal breakouts, Dr. Zeichner recommends oral medications. "Hormonal therapies like spironolactone or oral contraceptive pills are great options. They get to the root of the problem by preventing hormonal stimulation of the oil glands that contribute to acne," he notes.

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