When you are a teenager, you can’t wait to grow up. Your parents can’t tell you what to do. You can legally buy yourself a beer and, eventually, be old enough to rent a car.
If you’re a teenager with acne, you also anticipate the time that everyone predicts you’ll grow out of it. Then you find yourself in your 30s, still waiting. The outbreaks just keep on coming.
Maybe nothing you tried ever worked. Or maybe you’re still using the same routine you used in puberty. If you are still battling breakouts, it’s well past time to try something new.
Treatment for acne is always changing. Researchers continue to figure out more about the anatomy of acne, and you figure out more about your own skin. In tandem, you just might be able to discover how to successfully treat your adult acne.
If It’s Broke, Do Fix It
If you have some sort of treatment routine using products that aren’t doing the job, fix it. Begin by acknowledging two basic, universal truths.
First, that acne in your 30s is not the same as the acne of your teens. Your skin, pores, and hormones are all different now, even if the result is the same. You need to find an acne treatment regimen tailored specifically to you in the here and now.
Second, prescription and over-the-counter acne treatments have evolved. This is true not only in the development of treatments, but also in their combination of use in a regimen. Talk to a healthcare professional to help you determine whether retinoids, oral antibiotics, birth control, and/or spironolactone will offer the best solution. Find the right combo for you, and you’ll crack the acne code.
Give It Time and Space
No acne treatment is going to make your blemishes miraculously disappear overnight. Moreover, just because there are more and more treatments available, resist the temptation to try a different one every day. You may make your skin worse, not better.
Count on a treatment taking four to six weeks to show improvement. Makes notes about blemishes and breakouts, diet and exercise, and anything else new you use during that time. For example, if you also started using a new moisturizer or foundation, it might have affected the treatment’s effectiveness.
Basically, every variable you add to the mix can impact the outcome and disguise the results. It’s not unlike those science experiments you had to do in high school. Adding one variable at a time and repeating the exercise over and over is the only way to really know.
If a new treatment doesn’t appear to be working within four to six weeks, talk to your doctor. Your dermatologist may recommend trying a different medication or combining what you were trying with something else. Those notes you took will help your doctor help you find the answer.
Don’t Skip the Moisturizer
Moisturizing your skin when you have acne seems counterintuitive. After all, isn’t oil the root of all acne evil? While oil is the problem, moisturizer is part of the solution.
As a teen, you probably did everything possible to dry out your skin. You refused to wear sunscreen, washed your face with harsh soap, and wiped astringent on it. However, in that quest to get rid of blemishes by wringing your skin dry, you exacerbated the problem.
Dry skin revs up oil production in your pores to full throttle, and you know what happens then. By the time you’re in your 30s, your skin is already getting drier with age, making moisturizing even more vital. The only thing worse than a zit on your nose is a zit on your nose surrounded by flaking skin.
There’s no need to skip the moisturizer. Just use oil-free, water-based, non-comedogenic formulas that won’t clog your pores. By the time you’ve worked past your acne in middle age and beyond, you may look younger than you are.
Address Other Factors
Don’t rely on over-the-counter and prescription medications alone to solve your adult acne issues. There are some other factors to consider that might also make an acne-fighting difference.
Stress may not cause acne, but if you’re prone to breakouts, it will exacerbate it. So look for ways to lower your stress levels. These might include exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling, and/or getting the right amount of good sleep.
You may be using bacteria-zapping products as part of your treatment, but there’s more you can do. Avoid touching your face to reduce the transfer of bacteria from your hands. And although the scientific jury is still out regarding its antibacterial qualities, silk pillowcases might help keep bacteria at bay.
If you notice a correlation between breakouts and certain foods and beverages, avoid them. Again, the scientific community hasn’t proven diet causes acne. But it has proven the benefits of a healthy diet to your overall well-being, inside and out.
Stick With the Program
Admitting that you aren’t simply going to age out of acne is the first step toward vanquishing it successfully. Working with a good dermatologist who treats adult patients is also a smart move.
Take the time to figure out what successfully reduces your adult acne, one element at a time. Once you find a routine that works, don’t keep looking for the next best thing. Stick with what you’re doing so long as it’s keeping those pesky persistent pimples at bay. A thoughtful, methodical approach could be the answer to clearer skin.