What May Cause Your Acne (and ways to treat it)

acneMost of us endure our teen years looking forward to the day when we no longer have to deal with acne. Unfortunately, for many of us, acne doesn’t end when we hit our twenties, Whether you’re in your twenties, or even your forties. In fact, adult-onset acne is becoming more common in all women aged 20 to 50. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating and preventing adult-onset acne, there are several treatments that can help.

Consider Cosmetic Procedures

Resorting to cosmetic procedures to treat acne may seem like overkill, but if you are currently using over-the-counter or prescription acne products, and they aren’t working, cosmetic procedures could be your best option. Not only can these procedures help clear up your acne, they can also remove scarring and discoloration from previous episodes. These procedures also provide some measure of skin care because they stimulate the growth of healthy skin.

The most common cosmetic procedures for acne are microdermabrasion and chemical peels (also called glycolytic peels).

  • Microdermabrasion uses exfoliating particles to polish the surface of your skin. The process removes dead skin cells, reduces the appearance of blemishes and scars, and stimulates the growth of new, healthy skin.
  • Chemical peels use mild acids to clear the surface of your skin. The process removes dead skin cells, removes blackheads and whiteheads, and unclogs your pores. It also stimulates the growth of new, healthy skin.

Both procedures usually show results after the first treatment, and the results can last one week to a month. However, the effects of these procedures can also be cumulative, meaning your skin gets healthier with each treatment. For this reason, physicians like Dr. Michael Illingworth recommend microdermabrasion and chemical peels, not only as acne treatments, but as an effective addition to your skin care routine.

Consider Hormonal Solutions

Sex Hormones

The American Academy of Dermatology indicates that hormones, specifically androgens like testosterone, are the primary cause of acne.

Men and women both make and use testosterone and estrogen; it’s just that men usually have more testosterone and women have more estrogen. Sometimes women’s testosterone levels rise to the high end of the normal range. When this happens, it can cause several reactions in the skin including:

·  Excess oil production;

·  Skin cells shedding more quickly, and clogging the pores;

·  An increased level of acne bacteria in the skin; and,

·  Inflammation that helps trap bacteria and oil in the pores.

For some women, taking oral contraceptives (the pill) can actually regulate their hormones and prevent acne breakouts. You should be cautious, however, as hormonal birth control may

·  increase your risk of blood clots and stroke – especially if you smoke;

·  cause an increase in blood pressure;

·  cause abnormal vaginal bleeding; and

·  increase your risk of breast cancer.

Keep in mind that these side effects do not occur in all women, and many have even reported several benefits from using hormonal contraceptives, such as fewer menstrual cramps. However, for your safety and peace of mine, you should discuss your health history with your doctor before starting a hormonal contraceptive.

If your acne is accompanied by excess facial or body hair, frequent or irregular periods, voice changes, and unusual weight gain, consult your physician. These symptoms could be a sign of abnormally high androgen levels caused by a condition like poly-cystic ovary syndrome.

Adrenal Hormones

The sex hormones aren’t the only culprits when it comes to acne. High cortisol levels can also trigger acne breakouts. Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases in response to stress. Its primary job is to increase your blood sugar levels, during the fight or flight response, so that you have the energy you need to handle a threatening or stressful situation.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, we encounter multiple stressful situations and are rarely able to escape or fight through them. The result is that our cortisol levels can rise higher than normal, and that can have some of the same effects on our skin as when our testosterone levels are on the high side. This is probably one of the reasons why you tend to break out more during periods of stress, or right before a stressful event.

Taking steps to reduce the amount of stress in your life, in addition to standard acne treatments, could reduce your number of acne breakouts.

If your acne is accompanied by excessive fat gain in your upper body, face and between your shoulders; thin skin that bruises easily; excess hair growth on your face, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs; and, fatigue, consult your physician. These symptoms could be a sign of abnormally high cortisol levels caused by a condition like Cushing’s disease.


Nora Charles is a freelance writer that has worked with many bloggers for several years now.


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