Adult acne: A new epidemic

Mar 13, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. ET

Sixty million people in the USA alone have acne. Against popular belief, it is not a teen predicament anymore. The average age of the acne sufferer increased during the last decade from 20.5 to 26.5 years old. And acne doesn’t know any boundaries, as it affects individuals of any ethnic group, economic strata and skin type.

woman taking care of acne

Adult acne, whether you're in your 20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s, is a manifestation of an internal imbalance that leads to the overproduction of sebum (skin oil) by the sebaceous glands. This extra sebum together with dead skin cells and dirt create an ideal condition for bacteria to form, which results in inflammation that presents itself as acne (pimples, cysts, whiteheads, blackheads, etc.).

How to treat adult acne

To treat acne, one needs to rebalance the body and "reprogram" the sebaceous glands to produce a normal amount of sebum. This "rebalancing act" can only be done internally. Some topical products may help in reducing inflammation and controlling bacteria, but if they contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, they will also dry and sensitize your skin. If they are antibiotics, they will create photosensitivity and other concerns. Topical products are not effective, however, in eliminating the causes of acne and preventing new pimples from coming.

Can I really get rid of acne?

An additional challenge in addressing adult acne is created by the fact that it is mostly a chronic condition and many individuals cannot believe that they can actually get rid of it. Untreated acne pimples may last (on and off) for decades with worse and better periods and may cause permanent scarring (acne marks).

The only way to treat acne is to prevent new pimples and cysts from forming by removing the cause(s) of acne.

Your first steps to becoming acne-free

  • Know that adult acne has to be treated internally and will not go away on its own. Look for natural, healthy treatment options that will rebalance the body and restore "normal" activity of your sebaceous glands.
  • Investigate your treatment options and their long-term effects on your skin and your body. You cannot get rid of adult acne overnight.
  • Use natural "topical helpers" like witch hazel, chamomile and thyme infusions, which will not dry, age or sensitize the skin like often used salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Choose your makeup and skin care wisely opting for non-comedogenic products.
  • Investigate a possible underlying cause of your acne. What you put in your body and how you treat it have an effect on your skin, but food alone doesn't cause acne (may exasperate it). Exercising is great, but if overdone, it may increase the production of testosterone (one of the strongest "stimulators" of sebaceous glands). So become an educated consumer.

Seeing is believing. You are not alone (there are 60 million just like you!). And there is a light at the end of the tunnel. New natural treatments offer effective and safe alternatives that will help you to get acne-free for good.

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