Thursday, April 16, 2015

Adult acne and its causes

August 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Causes & Symptoms

Adults are not immune to a surge of acne pimples. Although adolescents are the victims of choice because of the hormonal changes their body undergoes, adults can also suffer from acne. Regardless of age, acne is caused by an infection of the sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands are attached to hair follicles and produce an oily substance called sebum. This oil naturally moisturizes and protects the skin. The acne pimples, which are actually lesions, are forme when sebum is produced in large quantities and it gets trapped in the pores with rubbles, dead cells, and bacteria.   Infection follows.

The cause for overproducing sebum is usually a change in the level of androgen, a male hormone produced by our body. Stimulated by the hormone the sebaceous glands produce more sebum than necessary. This hormonal fluctuation usually occurs between ages 12 and 21, which explains why teenagers suffer from acne more than anyone else. When hormonal changes stabilize, the acne usually disappears by itself.

Therefore, if an adult suffers from acne, one should look for the underlying cause. It is not necessarily nor strictly a skin problem.  It is recommended to see a healthcare specialist should acne reappear between 25 to 30 years, or if renewed acne after a period of relative calm. In cases of acne occurring for the first time in an adult who has never suffered from acne before, it is also advisable to seek medical help.

Here are some causes of adult acne:

  • Medications: Certain medications may lead to an outbreak of pimples,  including anabolic steroids, some anti-epilepsy drugs, or some TB drugs like isoniazid and rifampicin. Lithium and iodine can also cause acne.
  • Chronic physical pressure on the skin. For example, the constant friction of the straps of a backpack against the same stretch of skin, or a brace to support the neck and chin. We call this type of acne ‘acne mechanica’.
  • Some industrial products such as chlorine, or certain pesticides and herbicides. They produce a type of acne called ‘chloracne’, which is recognized as an occupational disease.
  • Some metabolic conditions, such as pregnancy, abnormal menstruation, or other hormonal changes due to disease, can also cause acne. It is not uncommon to see a pregnant woman going through an acne period.  However pregnant women should check with their physician before taking any medication or treatment against acne. Some medications can affect the unborn child, even if they are not taken by way of mouth.  Infants can then suffer from a type of acne called “acne infantilis’. The newborn baby suffers from acne for the same reasons the mother does; hormonal changes.  In the baby’s case, the pimples should disappear on their own before the age of eight months to a year.
  • Nutrition: when subject to acne you must pay attention to the foods you eat. Acid foods, greasy or containing refined sugar, do not help to have beautiful skin. One must drink plenty of water, keep a healthy diet consisting of lots of fruits and vegetables, and avoid junk food. Without directly causing acne, eating poorly does not help to overcome the acne pimples.

It is important to keep in mind that some lesions that could be mistaken for acne, are actually not. There is a skin disease called ‘folliculitis’, which occurs when hair follicles are infected and show symptoms of inflammation.  Folliculitis requires a different treatment than acne.

An outburst of Acne in an adult can be difficult to treat if it is followed by multiple recurrences.  There’s a powerful medication called” systemic isotretinoin”  that provides more than interesting results in the case of recurring acne. If acne appears in adulthood, it is necessary to consult your physician or a dermatologist. There could be an underlying cause that will reveal a different health problem.

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