You think that your acne problems would be over once you reach your twenties. You think you have endured the last zit on your face when you graduated from college only to wake up with a big red bulge the day of your first job interview. Surprise! There is such a thing as adult acne.
Adult acne can affect 25% of all adult males and 50% of all adult females. In fact, adult acne can occur well beyond 30 or 40 years and beyond. Adult acne is more common than most people think and because it is an unrecognized problem, it can cause a great emotional trauma. People tend to accept acne in adolescents, but are less empathic when they see it in adults.
A pimple or what doctors call a comedo, is at the center of a bout of acne. It is a clogged channel filled with hair, an oily substance called sebum and dead skin cells that provide an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria. When it breaks the skin, we see it as blackheads. When it does not break the skin, we see it as whiteheads.
Now, the most common misconception about acne is that it is caused by dirt or poor hygiene. This is simply not true. In fact, excessive washing of the infected area can cause drying out and, more often, more flare-ups. Washing twice a day with mild soap is recommended by most doctors.
Never, ever, squeeze or burst an acne point. This will simply push the bacteria deeper into the skin or break down the cell walls and spread the infection, making the acne bigger. Worst of all, this can lead to scars. Doctors use a procedure called "acne surgery" which essentially involves pressing the button, but using special sterile equipment to prevent infection and scarring.
The treatment of adult acne does not differ much. In fact, most of the commercial products that you will find in your local pharmacy that has the active benzoyl peroxide ingredient will work on an adult acne rash, as it did when you were a teenager.
However, the latest breakthrough in the treatment of acne is the development of a topical retinoic acid that is a kind of vitamin A. This new treatment significantly reduces the irritation caused by the disease. Acne and it is available in the new slow-release formula.
There are different types of acne and there is no treatment that fights all types, so it is always recommended to consult a dermatologist instead of trying the multitude of zit zapping products available in your neighborhood pharmacy. In fact, with the right diagnosis of the type of acne you have, a single prescription can quickly reduce your suffering.
This does not mean that commercial products are not effective. But each product targets the different known causes of acne and sometimes you will have to use a combination of these products. These treatments include:
. Azelaic acid cream
. Alpha-hydroxy acids (including glycolic acid, lactic acid and gluconic acid)
. Benzoyl peroxide
. Topical antibiotics (gels, lotions and solutions)
. Antibiotic pills (hazardous use can lead to antibiotic resistance)
. Contraceptive pills for women
. Accutane or Sotret for severe acne (Note: May cause birth defects, so women who choose to use this treatment should make sure that they are not pregnant).