Don’t Let Adult Acne Give You the Holiday Blues

A reader recently asked us the following question: I just turned 40 and I am still breaking out! How can I fight both acne and wrinkles?

Answer: Isn’t that the worst? Not only are you dealing with fine lines and wrinkles, but also acne on top of it? Unfortunately, adult acne is a very common problem. According to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, 54 percent of women older than age 25 have some facial acne.

Adult acne is different from typical teenage acne. After the age of 30, our skin cells do not turn over as quickly as they did when we were younger. Not only can this contribute to dull looking skin, but it also means our pores can become blocked and the acne may last longer.

What is the leading cause of adult acne? Stress. Our lives are so busy and full of stress, which in turn raises our hormones. According to The International Dermal Institute, “Chronic, continual stress increases hormone levels, which can lead to an increase in oil production.” Adult acne is commonly seen along the jaw line and neck. Other causes of acne include bacterial infections and inflammation.

Reducing your stress level is always a good idea not just for your skin, but for your health. Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep will all help with your skin’s appearance. Be sure to limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption and quit smoking, which can all throw off your skin’s balance and contribute to breakouts. Try to not sleep with your makeup on as nighttime is when your skin repairs itself. Also, try not to wear makeup when you workout and wash your face immediately afterwards.

The good news in all this is that many of the products used to fight adult acne will also help with fine lines and wrinkles. It’s best to look for products containing salcylic acid, glycolic acid and retinol. These chemicals will not only help to clear up your skin, but will also help exfoliate your skin giving you a heathier glow, lighten pigmentation the acne leaves behind and soften fine lines. Be sure you are using medical-grade (prescription) skin care instead of over-the-counter products. Medical skin care products are more effective, work in deeper levels of the skin and produce better results.

Start by washing your face twice a day with a cleanser with salcylic acid (Obagi’s Clenziderm Daily Care Foaming Cleanser). Exfoliation is also vital for adult acne. Not only will it keep the pores clean, but it will also slough off the old skin that can lead to breakouts and dull skin (Obagi’s Exfoderm Forte). Be careful not to use an aggressive scrub as that can aggrevate the acne. You just can’t scrub the acne off. Also, don’t forget to moisturize. There are moisturizers which contain sunscreen, which can be a nice option for acneic skin (PCA’s Weightless Protection 45). At night, you will want to include a retinol in your routine as prescribed by your medical skin care professional (Obagi’s Tretinoin). This is true whether you suffer from acne or not. Finally, if you need to conceal a blemish until it heals, look for non-comedogenic makeup products containing anti-inflammatory properties that will actually help heal your skin (jane iredale’s PurePressed Foundation and Disappear).

Before you start any skin care regime, it’s a good idea to talk to your medical skin care professional to ensure you’re treating the problem with the right products for your skin type. Don’t get discouraged if your skin gets worse before it gets better. That’s normal as your skin is purging itself of all of the trapped oil and bacteria. Unfortunately, it’s a marathon not a sprint when dealing with acne treatments. However, by the new year, in about four to six weeks, you should see marked improvement in your skin.

Jennifer Kauffman is a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. She is a member of American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and Coalition of Advance Practice Nurses of Indiana. She received her Nursing and Nurse Practitioner degrees from Goshen College, and Indiana Wesleyan University. Jennifer is a Clinical Instructor nationally to physicians and nurses on medical cosmetic procedures.

Do you have a question for Jennifer, about this article or another cosmetic skin care issue? Please call Vein Institute & Medical Spa at 574-267-1900 to have your questions answered and considered for future columns. Questions can also be submitted online at

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