Health Advice

8 Most Common Adult Acne Causes and Symptoms

A well-known teenage prank from your grandparents’ day would have youngsters find people with the surname “Whitehead” in the phone book. When they found a Mr. Whitehead, the kids would call and in their best grown-up voice ask to speak with a “Mr. Blackhead.” Told they had the wrong number, the kids would say, “Sorry, I must be looking for a different pimple!” and giggle off onto the next adventure. If it has been many years since you last giggled about a prank phone call but you are still experiencing frequent breakouts on your skin, you may be a victim of the common adult acne causes.

Adult acne is no laughing matter. Acne is a skin disease that results from hair follicles that are clogged with dirt, oil and dead skin cells. The blockage produces pimples like blackheads or whiteheads, oily skin, and even scars. Breakouts can occur on the face, chest, back and anywhere the skin has a high number of oil glands. Also called acne vulgaris from the Latin word for common, acne is a common long-term condition. Sufferers can experience anxiety, dread and even suicidal thoughts. A popular misconception about acne is that it stops “some time in college,” but acne affects adults as well as teenagers.

What are the most common adult acne causes? There are a number of myths and assumptions about acne, but here is a list of some of the leading adult acne causes:

1. Genes

Genes carry a lot of information about who we are, what we look like, and they very likely contribute to whether or not we have acne. Much recent study suggests that like the color of our eyes or our height, susceptibility to acne has its basis in the complex web of genetic material we have inherited from our parents.

2. Hormones

The fluctuating levels of hormones in the body during puberty or menstruation are notorious for causing breakouts. Several hormones have been linked to acne. The productions of male hormones, or androgens like testosterone, make the follicle glands on skin to grow larger and allowing for the build-up of the oily substance that causes acne.

In women, hormones also fluctuate due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, the postpartum period, and aging. People undergoing hormone therapy and athletes using hormone treatment also may also experience problems with adult acne causes.

3. Stress

Stress is a leading cause of any number of ailments, and acne appears to be no exception. Stressors are everywhere in the day-to-day of our work and personal lives. Under stress, the human body produces some of the hormonal changes that can cause acne. Interestingly, however, clinical research has struggled to quantify and understand the relationship between stress and acne, and the matter is still hotly debated by scientists.

4. Diet

As with stress, the precise relationship between diet and acne is unclear. The lack of definitive scientific clarity on the matter has left plenty of room for conjecture, myth and rumor. Some people believe that a diet rich in dairy and milk products increases the frequency and severity of acne outbreaks, but studies have been inconclusive and the only evidence has been anecdotal.

A diet rich in sugar is a potential source of skin trouble because it raises the level of insulin in the body. Elevated insulin can increase the level of androgens in the body, the hormones that trigger the oil levels that can cause acne. Eliminating sugar and foods with a high glycemic load has been proven to have definite overall health benefits, so it’s well worth trying. If an otherwise healthy dietary plan seems to work for you, follow it.

5. Environment

For people with pre-existing acne conditions any number of environmental factors can trigger an outbreak, including climate and weather, lack of sleep, illness, dehydration, and exposure to environmental irritants like allergens. Some have theorized a connection between adult acne and air pollution. Other research has also found a correlation between the incidence of adult acne and people with allergies, migraines and smokers.

6. Skin irritation

Direct irritation to your skin from everyday items like razors, harsh cleansers, tight clothing, or even a bike helmet strap can weaken your skin’s natural defenses and cause inflammation.  This causes your hair follicles to clog, which sets the stage for acne to form.

7. Medication

A number of prescription medications can exacerbate a pre-existing acne condition. Notable culprits include popular antibiotics, antidepressants, psychiatric medication, and the hormone therapy mentioned earlier. Check the labels on any prescription or over the counter medication that you are taking or speak with your doctor or pharmacist to find out more.

8. Infection

There is some evidence to suggest that airborne bacteria can contribute to the development of acne. Infections are serious and often need the professional expertise of dermatologists for further treatments.

Whatever the root cause, options for treatment of adult acne have increased dramatically in recent years. First try doing a little research, experimenting with changes to your diet and exercise regime, and working on improving your general health.  If the problem persists, speak with your doctor or pharmacist about the options available to you.

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