Sure, acne is typically associated with adolescents - but are you surprised to hear that as many as 20-30 percent of acne sufferers are over the age of 25? In fact, sebaceous (a.k.a. oil) glands are at their largest in your 30s!
First things first - Let's consider the three factors that cause acne:
- Increased oil production: This corresponds to where you fall on the dry vs. oily scale. In adult women, hormonal fluctuations - from pregnancy or oral contraceptives, for example - can cause increased oil production. If you think you fall into this category, consider talking to your doctor about birth control pills that can decrease oil production.
- Clogged pores: Oil causes dead skin cells to stick together and clog pores (resulting in blackheads and whiteheads).
- Bacteria: As bacteria moves into clogged pores, it results in inflammation and the red, pus-filled pimples associated with acne.
Not surprisingly, then, acne treatments target each of these three factors:
- Decrease oil production: Salicylic acid - which I'll discuss more in a future entry - is a great option for decreasing surface oil in people with acne. (Dry skin types can also develop acne and benefit a great deal from consulting a dermatologist, as many acne treatments and products are designed for oily types.)
- Unclog pores: Salicylic acid is also a non-abrasive exfoliant that sloughs off dead skin cells before they can clog pores. (Harsh scrubs, on the other hand, will not help clear skin and can actually worsen inflammation.) Oil-free makeup is also a good option for keeping pores clear.
- Kill bacteria: Your dermatologist can recommend topical or oral antibiotics to treat acne without irritating your skin, a particularly beneficial option for people with dry or very sensitive skin.
Finally, acne subtypes should be careful to avoid anything that exacerbates inflammation, particularly heat. Contrary to popular belief, steaming or applying a hot washcloth to a pimple will only worsen it. Sun exposure also aggravates acne, so ignore those skin care myths that suggest otherwise!
Wishing you great skin!
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Dr. Baumann is author of the best-selling book, " The Skin Type Solution." To learn more about her revolutionary skin typing system, visit her Web site, SkinTypeSolutions.com.
All of Dr. Baumann's recommended skin care products are available online, and a portion of proceeds goes to The Dermatology Foundation.