Growing up, we all thought our awkward teenage years would be the only time we’d suffer from the embarrassment of acne breakouts. But as we grew older, many of us discovered it’s simply not true. Clinical studies show that between 40 and 55 percent of adults aged 20-40 are diagnosed with persistent acne. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin concern in America, and adult acne is rapidly on the rise.
Although there may be different types of acne, it can be difficult to identify what causes them. However, the following are some not-so-obvious but common causes of acne breakouts among adults.
Hair serums, sprays, and masks may be a treat for your hair, but they’re a definite stressor for skin. Irritation from pore-clogging oils found in many hairstyling products can wreak havoc on acne-prone skin. If you’re concerned that your hair products are the cause, skip them altogether or be diligent about avoiding skin contact with hair products—including changing pillowcases nightly, and washing your face after conditioning hair in the shower.
For breakouts commonly found on the chin, temples, or neck, pay attention to how you sit at work. Commonly hunched over, reading a computer screen, or assessing a stack of papers, many people prop up their heads while focusing on their work. Frequently touching the face or neck causes bacteria and oils to transfer from the hands to the face, leading to acne breakouts.
No-fat diets may seem like a good idea, but not all fats are worth writing off. Essential fatty acids found in healthy foods like fish and avocado are powerhouses for skin health. Discounting them can carve a clear path to flaky, dehydrated skin and ongoing adult acne issues. Other foods that may be causing your breakouts could be high-glycemic foods, dairy, chocolate, and cocoa. Each of these could trigger certain responses for the body to produce more sebum, leading to oily skin and clogged pores.
Consider how often a phone is cleaned—especially since it can’t just be dunked in soap and water—then consider how much bacteria it gathers between cleanings! Sanitizing using a tech-friendly wipe is a must to avoid acne breakouts and irritation due to phone time. Alternatively, a Bluetooth earpiece or headphones with a built-in microphone will help minimize face-to-phone contact.
Testing out new products too often for a miracle solution may be causing more skin care issues than it’s solving. Additionally, when it comes to skin care, there is definitely such a thing as too much of a good thing: powerful acne-busting spot treatments run the risk of dehydrating skin, causing further irritation and acne breakouts. Avoid switching out skin care products frequently, and overusing acne treatments in hopes of an overnight solution; a minimum of 30 days is needed to see a real impact based on skin’s natural cell turnover. If you are looking to simplify your skin routine with three easy steps, this blog is a great resource.
There are multiple negative impacts smoking has on the skin, and acne is one of them. Lighting up has a detrimental effect on skin’s oxygen levels, leading to enlarged pores, a breakdown in elastin and collagen levels (essentials for a youthful appearance), dehydrated skin, and increased oil production. Nicotine can cause the cells receptors in the skin to go into an overdrive mode, where the pores will tighten and lead to excess sebum buildup. Simply put: expect more acne breakouts the more cigarettes smoked.
For those experiencing acne breakouts on the body, consider what’s being added to the washing machine. Harsh detergents take out coffee stains in a breeze, but they often contain chemicals that may not wash away so easily, causing skin irritation. To see if your soap is the culprit, go green and try out less chemically-intense detergents.
Sun exposure is often linked to premature aging, but the same drying effects that cause those fine lines and wrinkles could be causing those troublesome acne breakouts. The drying effects of UV rays cause skin to increase oil production in hopes of regaining moisture, leading to more breakouts. For optimal skin health, never skip the SPF.
Medications may be helpful in treating some symptoms, but they can cause others, including adult acne. Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that contain androgens, iodides, and corticosteroids are often linked to adult acne breakouts. Though it’s best to follow prescriptions, you may want to consult a doctor about alternative or naturally-sourced treatments for common colds and coughs that could help you avoid these acne-causing concerns, especially for over-the-counter products.
Romantic partners can often be the cause of acne breakouts, particularly if a beard is involved. Sharing towels, pillows, and kisses (especially when there’s friction from facial hair) can all cause increased bacteria levels and oil production, leading to more breakouts.
Discovering the culprit behind one’s adult acne breakouts can be a long process of trial and error, cutting out the most common culprits while monitoring skin’s reactions to see what works. You can manage the process by avoiding common mistakes that could make the breakouts worse. If you still would like to use make-up on your acne-prone skin, there are some tips that can help better cover up these blemishes. The in-between period can be stressful, so you could consider a gentle treatment to stem the growth of acne bacteria and reduce inflammation.
For an added boost to any acne-fighting regimen, acne treatments may be the best bet. Look for an IPL-based treatment for acne reduction that uses both blue and red light, which work together to kill acne-causing bacteria and heal inflammation. The result is a simultaneous healing of existing breakouts as well as preventative measures for future acne.
To learn more about the benefits of acne treatments, contact a certified treatment provider near you.