What's the Difference between Adult and Teenage Acne?

Many patients are surprised to discover they continue to have acne breakouts while they’re in their thirties or beyond. The truth of the matter is you can have acne at any age. Acne occurs most often during adolescence, but it’s not uncommon to experience problems throughout the rest of your life. You don’t have to face your acne alone, though. Our team at HK Dermatology in San Juan Capistrano, California is here to help. Dr. Jeffrey Klein and his expert team offer specialized treatments to help you fight breakouts, get clearer skin, and restore your confidence. 

What is acne?

Acne is the most common skin condition out there. Acne forms when oil on your skin picks up dead skin cells and bacteria. The oil travels to your pores, the openings to your hair follicles. The pores become inflamed, and bumps emerge. Acne tends to appear more frequently on your face, chest, and upper back, as these areas produce more oil.

There are a number of different kinds of acne:

Whiteheads are clogged pores that become closed under the surface of your skin, causing the pores to swell. 

Blackheads are clogged pores that remain open, and the open surface turns black. 

Pimples, nodules, and cysts form when the wall of skin surrounding a clogged pore opens, and the oil and bacteria seep into your skin’s deeper layers. Your body’s natural reaction to the bacteria is to create a large, red, pus-filled mass. 

Acne among teens

It’s no secret we expect teenagers to struggle with acne. Hormonal changes during puberty play a big role in causing breakouts. 

Hormones known as androgens increase their levels during puberty. The main androgen for boys is testosterone, and for girls it’s progesterone. Androgens increase the size of oil-producing skin glands, and your skin consequently produces more oil. If the oil passes through large pores, it’s likely to clog them, and then you develop the hallmark blemishes at that spot. 

Teens with acne tend to experience self-esteem issues in a time in their lives that can already be filled with social awkwardness. The psychological toll of acne among teens motivates us at HK Dermatology to use comprehensive low-risk techniques to clear persistent acne in no time. 

Acne among adults

Acne in adults also occurs because of an excess production of skin oil. It’s not well known why certain adults continue to develop acne, but genetic factors seem to play a role. If your parents developed acne during adulthood, you’re more likely to develop acne during adulthood as well.  

While teenage acne is primarily caused by an influx of hormones during puberty, hormone production stabilizes after puberty. Adult acne continues to occur, though mostly in women. Hormonal fluctuations during adulthood such as pregnancy and menstruation typically trigger acne. Many women with acne notice diminished outbreaks after menopause, when estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Teens often develop acne around their cheeks and forehead; adults tend to develop acne on their chin and around the mouth.

Certain medication may also be at the root of adult acne such as steroids, lithium, and phenobarbital. 

Self-care solutions

Whatever the cause of adult and teen acne is, the treatment is generally the same except for a few minor differences.

Wash your face

To avoid acne you should gently wash your face once or twice a day with a mild soap and warm water. Scrubbing your face can cause more acne, so avoid using harsh facial scrubs and washcloths.  

If you wear makeup, use water-based instead of oil-based products. Make sure to wash off makeup thoroughly. 

You can use over-the-counter treatments to clear acne if you’re a teen, but adults require products more delicate for their skin. 

Don’t pick your acne

Don’t pick and squeeze acne, since this can lead to scarring. This is especially important for adult acne, since in adults skin regenerates at a slower rate. This means scars last longer.

Avoid external triggers

Environmental factors can either improve or worsen acne. Exposure to sunlight is known to reduce acne in some people. Excess sweat during exercise can lead to a breakout. And while there's no proof that stress and diet cause acne, if you notice that your breakouts are triggered by certain foods you should avoid them. 

Gel and hairspray can clog pores if they make contact with your skin. If your hair frequently falls over your face, make sure to wash it as often as possible. 

Seeing a dermatologist

If your acne doesn’t go away with self-care remedies, you should schedule an appointment with HK Dermatology. Our experienced team can provide a treatment option that’s right for your acne problem. We especially recommend adults to seek our services before using harmful over the counter products. 

Some of the treatments we provide include:

If you’re ready to ditch the oil and blemishes maring your face and body, call HK Dermatology at 949-248-1632 or book your appointment online. We can help.

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