Acne is one of the most common skin conditions out there, and most people struggle with a breakout or two at least once in their lives. For many, acne is the source of decreased self confidence, isolation, and embarrassment. Acne can happen at any point in life, but adolescents and adults most frequently suffer from breakouts. Let’s talk through the difference between teenage acne and adult acne, as well as how you can prevent both.
The number one reason for acne breakouts during teen years is changing hormones during puberty. Hormones called androgens (testosterone in boys and progesterone in girls) increase their production levels during this time. This leads to larger skin glands and thus more sebum production. Sebum -- commonly called oil -- is necessary to keep skin cells hydrated. But when there is an overproduction of sebum, acne can occur.
Acne manifests when sebum mixes with sweat, dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells to clog the pore. Whiteheads are closed pores with blocked oil and pus under the surface. Blackheads are clogged pores where the trapped oil is exposed to the air. When this happens, oxidation occurs, turning the plugged pore black and causing that speckled appearance.
In addition to hormonal changes, teenagers often eat more greasy foods, stay in sweaty clothing longer, and forget to wash their faces or hands thoroughly enough. Sebum can transfer to the face through frequent touch, and often teenagers try to squeeze or pick at pimples, exacerbating the acne issue.
Some people develop acne through the adolescent years and then never struggle with the issue in adulthood. Others will continue to have bouts of acne throughout their lives. And still others never have an acne problem until adulthood, when they suddenly start breaking out. Adult acne also occurs when excess sebum is produced, but since hormones stabilize after adolescence, it’s often due to other factors.
Stress is a primary factor in the overproduction of sebum in adults. Chronic stress particularly can cause inflammation in the body, leading to acne breakouts. Many things can increase this inflammation, including lack of sleep, poor diet, inadequate hydration, and more.
Additionally, hormonal fluctuations during menstruation and pregnancy can cause acne breakouts. And sometimes, adult acne is simply caused by genetics. If your parents had adult acne, you’re more likely to have it too.
Make an appointment with a dermatologist to get their expert opinion and recommendations for acne treatments. A specialist will be able to help you identify your specific triggers, recommend the appropriate skincare products for your skin type, and prescribe acne medication if necessary. Since exfoliation is a crucial part of managing acne, you may also look into getting regular microdermabrasion or chemical peel treatments. These two cosmetic treatments slough off the layer of dead skin cells, dirt, and bacteria, removing a big part of the equation that results in acne. Chemical peels are chemical exfoliants and microdermabrasion is a physical exfoliant, but your doctor can make the recommendation that is best for your situation.
Struggling with adult or adolescent acne? If you’re in Baton Rouge or the surrounding areas, contact Louisiana Dermatology Associates today for an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists.