For as long as I can remember people have commented on my skin. I’ve always received compliments about how pretty my skin is and my canned answer was “it’s make-up”. Looking back, it is funny that I didn’t recognize that I was indeed blessed and had great skin. All I could see were the random (minor) scars left from a old pimple or if it was that time of the month, the one pimple that made an appearance with my hormonal changes. Today however, I can’t think of one person that would say I have great skin.
I am now one of the many adults suffering with adult acne. I know, it sounds oxymoronic because acne is widely thought of as a teenage disease, but you may be surprised to learn that acne can actually be a problem at any age. According to a study by the American Academy of Dermatologists, acne plagues adult women at a higher rate than men. Like 26.3% of the women over forty in this study, I currently have acne.
For many, adult acne is milder than teenage acne but sadly, my face looks like a constellation. I’ve come to understand that the state of my face is a reflection of how I’m feeling internally. Although many doctors may dispute that there is a correlation between the food we eat, stress and our skin, in my experience if you look at my skin you can gauge how healthy I am. And at the moment, I’m not very healthy.
My life is currently full of stressors and I’ve reacted by not eating well, not drinking enough water and not exercising consistently. Combined, these things have had a negative impact on my skin. I’ve tried everything from Retin-A to Benzoyl Perioxide to clear up my skin. Lately, the Benzoyl Peroxide has provided pretty good results but I’m left with scars as reminders of the state my skin has been in.
It is my hope that when I start taking better care of myself that my skin will reflect the change and I try to follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Dermatologists about the care and treatment of acne:
1. Do not squeeze acne to get rid of it. Acne treatment takes time to work. While you are waiting for treatment to work, it can be tempting to squeeze acne to get rid of it. Squeezing tends to make acne worse. It can even cause a permanent acne scar. This is why dermatologists tell their patients with acne not to pick, scratch, pop, or squeeze.
2.Do not tan to get rid of acne. Trying to clear your acne by getting a tan may not be as safe as you think. Research shows that people who use tanning beds and sunlamps increase their risk of getting melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, by 75%. Getting a tan from the sun also increases your risk of skin cancer.
3.Treat your acne. Thanks to research breakthroughs, virtually every case of acne can be controlled. If you cannot find a treatment that works, a dermatologist can help.
4.Be gentle to your skin. Scrubbing your skin clean will not clear acne. Scrubbing irritates the skin and tends to make acne worse.
I am at the point now where I take my acne in stride and constantly remind myself that things could be worse. This works for me on most days but admittedly, sometimes it is difficult and I think that everyone is looking at me wondering why my skin is so bad! I am hopeful that my current treatment will actually clear my skin and I’ll only have to deal with the residual scars (African-American skin is prone to hyperpigmentation) that will eventually fade. In the meantime, I wanted to come out of the closet and let you know that yes, adults do get acne, it can be embarrassing and sometimes depressing but with proper treatment, it can be managed.
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