If you think that adults don't get acne, you're wrong. It may present differently than when you were a teenager, but it's still acne. Acne is the most common skin condition among Americans, and it doesn't discriminate by age. You can be in your 50s and get adult acne. Although some people develop acne for the first time when they are well into their adulthood years, getting the answers to common questions can help take some of the sting out of adult acne.
What does adult acne look like?
If you had acne as a teen, you likely were plagued with whiteheads and blackheads covering your forehead, cheeks, and nose. Adult acne often appears as reddish papules, pustules, or nodules on the chin, around the mouth, and along the jawline. While not always visible, deep pimples and nodules that become inflamed usually feel firm and tender to the touch.
How often should you cleanse your face?
Generally, you don't get acne because you aren't cleaning your face often enough. Dirty skin isn't a cause of acne. In fact, scrubbing your face can irritate the skin and make acne worse. While washing your face twice each day may be more effective than a single cleansing, washing it too often can dry out your skin.
Aging causes dry skin, so you have to be careful not to make dry skin problems worse. Your skin produces fewer natural oils as you get older, so the key is to keep it moisturized, not wash it more. Mineral oil, petroleum jelly, and glycerin are all products that help keep skin supple by trapping in moisture.
Can you wear makeup if you have acne?
Not all makeup products worsen an acne breakout. It's true that thick liquid foundations can clog pores and hair follicles; therefore, you should opt for lighter, loose powders, such mineral powders, to help cover acne without aggravating it.
Clogged pores are common at the forehead and chin areas, making it easier for pimples to develop at sites of inflammation or infected blockages. Mineral face powders allow your skin to breathe, so they are less likely to clog pores. They also don't have chemicals and are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free–additional qualities to consider if you have acne-prone skin.
While talc-based face powders can create a smooth look and hide blemishes and other problem areas on the skin, they aren't always the best choice for women over 40. Applying too much powder can actually make you look older. The powder can settle into wrinkles and fine lines, making them more noticeable.
Does stress make acne worse?
Although dead skin cells and bacteria that become trapped inside pores can lead to acne at any age, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that numerous other factors can make existing acne worse. Genetics, foods with a high glycemic content, hormonal changes, and emotional stress can all contribute to more serious acne outbreaks.
While both physical and psychological stresses cause the body to release more of the stress hormone cortisol, dermatologists can't say for certain whether stress itself causes acne. Eating poorly and not getting enough sleep when you are under stress may be underlying factors.
Should you skip the sunscreen if you have acne?
The answer is definitely "no." Sun damage can age your skin prematurely and put you at risk for skin cancer. Whether you have acne-prone skin or not, you should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays whenever you are outdoors–even in the wintertime.
Not all sunscreens irritate acne. Since sunscreens that use chemical filters to absorb UV light can irritate the skin, a physical sunscreen that contains the active ingredient zinc oxide to block the sun's rays can be better for certain skin types, particularly sensitive skin.