Hormonal Acne

There has been a huge increase in acne affecting more women in their adult years. Most adult women think clear skin is on the horizon once we escape our teens, only to find that’s not the case.

I had picture-perfect clear skin in my teens and early twenties. In fact, I was often told how beautiful my skin was.  In my mid-late twenties I began experiencing adult acne. Painful papules on my chin and cheeks plagued me for days. I began seeing an aesthetician in Charlotte, NC for blue light therapy, dermaplaning, chemical peels, and even laser therapy. Jill helped me control my breakouts and scarring and also interested me into going into the business. Shortly after, I had planned my move back to my hometown. With the stress of moving, selling my house-all with two kids in tow, my stress levels were through the roof.  By the time I was in Virginia, my face had erupted into painful breakouts all over my face. At the insistence of my grandmother, I made an appointment with a dermatologist.  I saw the PA, Michael, who prescribed Solodyn and Retin-A Micro. My skin is thick and not sensitive, but I could not handle the irritation from Retin-A. I did remain on the Solodyn, which kept me clear for a year. When I became pregnant with my youngest daughter, my skin cleared and glow, as if I were in my teens again. I had no acne, no excessive oil , no worries. About three months postpartum, my skin returned to it’s “usual” routine.

Adult acne is so difficult to treat since it’s mostly caused by hormones. Stress is a culprit, since it triggers our brain into producing  hormones, which causes a mass oil production.  Birth control pills are another factor. They can trigger an androgenic (male hormone) flare-up which can cause acne. Menopause can lead to severe acne, since the body is going through permanent hormonal changes.

Having a proper skincare regimen is important when treating adult acne.  Here are some ingredients used to treat acne.

~Benzoyl Peroxide– available in 2.5%, 5%, and 10% concentrations.  It is a keratolytic, which means it dissolves keratin. It works by breaking up dead cells that have become trapped in pores. It also releases oxygen into the pore.  Acne bacteria cannot survive in the presence of oxygen.

~Salicylic Acid– a betahydroxy acid (bha) that sheds dead cells that have become trapped in the pore. It is touted as being milder than benzoyl peroxide.  BHA is used in over the counter products in concentrations of 1% or 2%.

~Sulfur- is used to exfoliate pores and it also has antibacterial properties. It’s not as irritating as benzoyl peroxide so this is very popular with adult acne-sufferers. It can be found in concentrations of up to 10% and is mainly used in masks.

~Sulfur mixed with Resorcinol- Resorcinol is a known peeling agent that can be found in a Jessner’s chemical peel. When it’s mixed with sulfur, it’s anti-acne properties are increased. Sulfur-resorcinol is often found in “drying” potions. It should not be used on large areas of the body or broken skin due to toxicity.

Finding the right brand or product will take trial and error. If breakouts are not lessened by use of topical treatments, then it is wise to visit a physician to rule out any hormonal disorders.

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