Beneath the Surface

Dive Deeper With Our Dermatology Blog

The Expense and Experience of Adult Acne

Everyone begrudgingly expected to cope with acne in high school. No one mentioned it would be the uninvited guest at class reunions.

Acne: it’s not just for teens.

While many teens do experience acne, two-thirds of patients seeking treatment for the disorder are adults. If you find yourself picking up pimple prescriptions and dry cleaning in the same trip, you’re not alone. Approximately 3 million adults are being treated for acne by a physician. And, the cost of acne is indeed an adult problem; Americans racked up nearly $1 billion in medical expenses as they managed their acne. Simultaneously, $400 million were lost in lost productivity and wages as patients sought treatment.*

What causes adult acne?

First, let’s address the basics of acne. Acne is generally a result of bacteria, inflammation, excess oil production, and pores becoming clogged by skin cells. How all of this happens is what makes adult acne slightly different from acne in adolescents. 

In adults, acne is influenced by:

  • Stress
  • Diet, as some foods may produce an inflammatory response in the body
  • Hormones, especially menstrual cycles and pregnancy
  • Hair and beauty products
  • Medications (corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, and lithium are all common culprits.) Do not stop any medicine without the guidance of your prescribing physician.
  • Underlying health conditions.

Acne in adults typically looks a bit different from teen acne. While teens experience a mix of cystic acne (large, painful welts), blackheads, and whiteheads, adults – and especially adult women – present with predominantly cystic acne. 

What can be done about adult acne?

  • Consult with a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist will be able to determine the cause of your acne and recommend products, both over-the-counter and prescription, that will help clear your skin.
  • Practice Skin-Smart Sleep. Remove all makeup and ensure hair is kept off of the face before you go to bed.
  • Seek makeup, skincare, and hair care products that are labeled non-comedogenic. 
  • Keep a skin diary. Take note of foods, products, situations, and time frames during which you break out. This can help you, and your dermatologist better understand your acne.
  • Protect your skin with SPF 30+ and physical barriers like wide-brimmed hats. While skin cancer prevention is always necessary, shielding your face from harmful rays is critical when taking medications that increase light sensitivity. Sun protection will also help prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, the dark purple spots that appear on the skin after acne subsides.

Dealing with adult acne can be frustrating. A board-certified dermatologist can help you manage your symptoms and put you on the path to clear skin. With busy schedules and limited time off, taking that dermatology care online can be a huge time and money saver. It’s easy, too. To conduct a visit, just log in to your account (or create a new one), upload photos of your condition, and answer a few questions about your health.  Within 72 hours of your online visit, you can have a treatment plan and any prescriptions, if necessary, sent to the pharmacy of your choice.

 

* American Academy of Dermatology. Skin Briefs: Acne by the Numbers. 2017. 

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