Facts About Acne in Teenagers and Adults - PIH Health - Whittier, CA

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Healthy Living Online

Published on April 16, 2015

Treating Acne in Teenagers & Adults

Facts About Acne in Teenagers and Adults

Acne can be a frustrating experience for people of all ages. While acne typically occurs in teenagers, it can persist into the adult years and may not even occur until adulthood. It’s not uncommon for adults in their 20s, 30s or 40s to experience their first case of acne.

What causes acne?

The oil glands in your skin produce a substance called sebum, which is a natural moisturizer produced by the body. As we grow older, increased hormones cause the oil glands to produce larger quantities of sebum. When sebum is combined with debris, such as dead skin, pores become plugged resulting in blackheads and/or whiteheads (these are essentially the same, but blackheads have black tops because of a chemical reaction that occurs when the oil in the pore has contact with air).

In addition, there are many bacteria and germs on the surface of the skin. If these become trapped in the opening of an oil gland, they can cause irritation and inflammation. This inflammation may be very superficial or go very deep which is why people experience different levels of severity when it comes to acne.

Why does acne tend to get worse at times?

  • Changes in hormone levels. Many females will notice a slight flare-up of acne before or during their menstrual cycle. Birth controls pills and pregnancy can also affect acne. In males, hormones play a significant role in the development of acne.
  •  Stress.
  • Medications. Certain medications may cause acne or cause existing acne to worsen. If you are taking any medication regularly, be sure to tell your doctor.

Does diet affect acne?

There is no evidence that chocolate, soda, fatty or fried foods cause acne. However, if you find that certain foods worsen your acne, avoid them.

How is acne treated?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a medical cure for acne. The goal of treatment is to control your acne until you outgrow it or it goes away on its own. However, this will take time so it is important to continue treatment for months or even years. You may also need to make changes to your treatment regimen from time to time. Even the most effective medications can take six to eight weeks to begin working, so it is important to be patient.

If you or a loved one is struggling with acne, contact a dermatology professional. They will be able to address medical treatment options, including prescriptions; provide recommendations for skin care and diet; and suggest aesthetic procedures, such as chemical peels and exfoliation. Most insurance plans will cover medications, treatments and aesthetic procedures used to help control acne.

For additional information or to schedule an appointment with the PIH Health Acne Care Program, contact the Dermatology, Aesthetics & Mohs Surgery Center at 562.789.5429.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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