Most people think of acne as an unpleasant teenage rite of passage, an annoying condition that they will outgrow by their early 20s.
But while the majority of young adults do see the frequency of their facial breakouts fade as they age past their adolescent years, almost half of adults over 25 suffer from acne.
“A staggering 50 percent of Mexican women between the ages of 25 and 40 have moderate or severe acne, and nearly 20 percent of Mexican women over age 40 have moderate to severe acne,” said dermatologist Mary Carmen de la Torre Sánchez during a recent presentation of Ducray’s new Keracnyl line of skin treatment products developed specifically for adult acne.
“Mexicans tend to have oily skin, so they are more apt to suffer from adult acne.”
But while the breakouts of adult acne are just as emotionally devastating as teenage blemishes, the adult condition is very different from the adolescent ailment.
“Adult acne can be related to genetics, stress, hormones, diet or lifestyle choices, such as smoking or consuming alcohol,” De la Torre Sánchez explained.
“And, as a rule, adult acne is harder to treat than adolescent acne.”
De la Torre Sánchez, who has a private practice at the Hospital Ángeles in the Roma neighborhood, said that adult acne should be treated differently from teenage acne.
“Adult skin tends to be more sensitive and less resilient than an adolescent complexion,” she said.
“And while adolescent acne usually attacks the T-zone around the chin, nose and forehead, adult acne strikes around the cheeks, jawline and neck area, what we call the U-zone.”
De la Torre Sánchez said that the first step in treating adult acne is to establish a good skincare routine.
“You need to wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser like Keracnyl gel, which will remove bacteria and impurities without drying out your skin,” she said.
“Using a harsh soap or washing or exfoliating more frequently will only aggravate the sebum cycle and throw your skin’s oil production into overdrive, leading to more breakouts.”
De la Torre Sánchez said that once skin is thoroughly clean, adult acne patients should apply a suitable serum or face cream, such as those in the Keracnyl line, that will protect against external elements and calm inflammation and irritation while reducing the appearance of dark spots (a common consequence of adult acne) and helping to prevent the development of tiny lines and premature aging.
The application of any acne treatment should be followed by the use of a daily sunscreen to prevent UV exposure, which can not only increase breakouts, but can lead to skin cancer, she said.
For mild to moderate cases, there are any number of over-the-counter products to treat adult acne.
Key ingredients to look for include glycolic acid, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and sulphur.
For heavier breakouts, topical medications such as a retinoid, derived from vitamin A, can significantly improve the skin, but should only be used under a doctor’s supervision.
Curbing your consumption of French fries and other greasy foods will help, as will getting a good night’s sleep and steering clear of heavy drinking and smoking.
De la Torre Sánchez said that to be sure to use cosmetic and beauty products that are
hypoallergenic and to try to avoid touching your face,
which will only encourage the development of bacteria and the occurrence of infections in the most prone areas.
“Squeezing pimples and blackheads doesn’t help at all and can do more harm than good, increasing the degree of inflammation and the risk permanent scars,” she said.
“It may be hard, but try to resist the temptation.”
If your adult acne persists or gets worse, do seek medical attention, de la Torre Sánchez said, since it could be an underlying symptom of a more serious medical problem.
“Your skin is your body’s largest and most visible organ, and it can be a bellwether of other health concerns,” she said.
“Once you have ruled out that there is no hidden cause of your breakouts, you can develop a simple and practical routine to help control your acne without harming your delicate adult skin.”