Adult Acne and Over-the-Counter Remedies

As you read this blog, a zit is trying to make a cameo appearance right in the middle of my forehead! Geez, it’s that time of the month again when my hormones are enraged. If you are over 20 years old  and you’re still struggling with acne, I humbly welcome you to my world.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 80 percent of people in their 20s to 30s suffer from adult acne, 50 percent of which are women. And chances are, if you are battling with pimples in your teenage years, they will most likely resurface later. Seems like a ghost from the past eh?!

So what exactly causes adult acne? 

Genetic makeup is one. If your parents suffered from teenage and adult acne, you are most likely a surefire candidate. Another reason is the fluctuating hormones such as in menstruation and menopause. Pre-menstrual acne is related to hormonal changes (estrogen goes down, progesteron up). This leads to overproduction of oil that blocks and clogs the skin which inevitably results to pimples. In the case of menopause, estrogen drops while the male hormone androgen (yes women have them), in particular, testosterone rises. Overproduction of oil  clogs the pores, while older skin slows down cell regeneration. Add these two factors together and you get acne. Cosmetics is another culprit. Acne cosmetica, a condition related to the use of makeups, skin and hair products, occurs along the hairline, around the lips and scalp. Stress is also a factor, treatment of which is so hard to expound unless we do total paradigm shift. Certain medications like corticosteroids, anti-convulsants and birth control pills can also cause acne. Lastly, lifestyle-related factors such as fondness for sweets (oh that’s me!) and junk food disrupt healthy hormonal equilibrium.

Depending on the degree of adult acne, treatments vary from over-the-counter topical medications to prescription drugs. While having oily skin sort of delays wrinkles on my end, it is obvious that adult acne (occasional breakouts, mild-moderate type) and open pores are my foes. Products come and go but somehow this over-the-counter triumvirate made in to my go-to list. 

Caveat: The following are all based on my personal experience. Note that my skin type is different from yours so what works for me may not for you. There are no overnight solutions to adult acne. For severe cases of adult acne, consult your family doctor or dermatologist.

All drugstore/ over-the-counter pimple fighting remedies

Skincare starts with a clean face, needless to say. Every now and then I try a new facial wash and leave my mid to high-end regimen temporarily. (like you I fell into several traps of equating expensive products with better results only to realize that not all products are made the same). With new and improved packaging, St. Ive’s Apricot Cleanser seems to have worked with my skin type. It is oil-free, not tested on animals, and does not have parabens and phtalates. The addition of salicylic acid in its formulation helps control blemishes while the apricot extract micro-beads slough off dead skin cells. It is quite creamy in texture with a hint of a medicated scent- so if you are sensitive to fragrance, this might turn you off a bit.

In 6.5 oz  net wt. / 184g

I use this day and night.
With a pea-sized amount, I massage this  over my face for about a minute.
No to red face:
Tiny micro- beads are dispersed enough not to turn your
face red after rinsing.

An advocate of all-things natural, I am drawn to use products that are at least 95% natural. A good toner that seems to deliver its claim is Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions, a clarifying toner that is 99.5% natural. Its active ingredient is 1% salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps control pimples by exfoliating or removing dead skin cells. Remember that pores clogged with debris lead to acne. The natural ingredients listed in the bottle include willow bark, a medicinal plant with anti-blemishing properties, and witch hazel, a shrub with known anti-bacterial action. 

In 5 fl oz/ 145ml
I use this twice a day, after washing my face.
With a cotton ball, I apply it to my face and neck.
As with other products, stop using when you experience irritation.

The above products are preventive measures. But in days my zits can’t help but say hello, I turn to topical spot treatments like Benzoyl Peroxide 10%.  Benzoyl peroxide is indicated for mild to moderate cases of acne. It works as an antiseptic that kills p. acnes, (an anaerobic bacteria that thrives with little or no oxygen) by providing oxygen to the follicles (Imagine vampires lurking in the dark and then get killed when light or sun strikes them- wow, what at analogy!). Benzoyl peroxide comes in different strengths, 2.5%, 5% and 10%. The higher the concentration, the higher the drying effect (a very common side effect of 10%). With that in mind, 2.5% offers lesser chances of skin irritation. Discontinue using if you experience rashes or allergy.

Let the truth come out:
Most high end topical acne medications are made from Benzoyl Peroxide.
Check the label next time.

It does not offer overnight relief but you will see your zits disappear
in 3-4 days. I apply this bad boy at night time (in affected areas).
In case of dryness, I apply an oil-free moisturizer then I proceed
with my makeup routine in the morning.

Disclaimer: Although I used to work for the marketing department of a dermatology/pharmaceutical company, my opinion, experience, and personal preference should not replace your doctor’s recommendations. I will not be held liable for results that you found undesirable. I purchased these products.


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1 Comment

  1. July 12, 2011 / 10:52 am

    This blog is very elegant

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