Swati, a reader wrote to me with her skin problem:
“I just hit 30 and am following a skin care regimen. But I have tried at least 15-20 sunscreens and all of them give me pimples…. I do not have acne prone skin....never had it in my life even in teens...but most products..Even moisturizers etc...Make my skin break out. pls help!”
Swati, I think you are probably suffering from a condition known as Adult Acne.
Adult Acne is well, acne that strikes you when you are in your late twenties and thirties. Nearly 20 percent of men and 30 percent of women over the age of 20 have some sort of breakout
Stress – This is the number one cause of adult acne. This is caused by the body producing extra androgens, a type of hormone, in response to stress. In turn these androgens stimulate oil production in the glands of the skin causing acne to flare up.
Hormones: Experts aren't sure why, but oil glands seem to be more sensitive to hormonal shifts during your 20s and 30s.
Family history - many of us have a genetic predisposition to adult acne. Studies have shown that up to half of adult acne sufferers have a parent or sibling that have also suffered from the same condition.
Birth control pills - the combination of hormones contained in most birth control pills, progesterone and estrogen, often helps to prevent acne in women. Ceasing to take the pill can cause an outbreak of adult acne. On the other hand, progesterone only birth control pills can trigger adult acne, so stopping these may help to clear your skin.
Medication - many medications can cause an outbreak of acne, or cause it to flare up if you are already acne prone. Never stop taking medication because of an acne breakout without consulting your doctor first.
Oily products - hair greases and oily sunscreens can trigger something called acne cosmetica when they come into contact with the skin. Buying products labelled ‘non-acnegenic’ or non-comedogenic’ should help to avoid this type of adult acne.
Pollution and Hormone Fed Meats are also being cited as possible causes, but there is no conclusive research on this yet.
CAUTION: There are times when adult acne, particularly in women, can be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as polycystic ovaries, adrenal hyperplasia or a hormone secreting tumour. However, in these cases there will be other symptoms such as increased facial hair and thinning hair or bald patches on the head, as well as irregular periods. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms in conjunction with acne, you should consult your doctor to begin tests.
What be done?
1. Visit the dermatologist. This is important. Adult acne is often mistaken for rosacea, a condition where a person's skin reddens around the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. In addition to the reddening, many rosacea patients experience pimples. The derm should be able to help you not only identify the real condition, but also the causative agents as well as products that can help you clear it.
2. Get a cleanup done: Sometimes acne flares up due to clogged pores. Get a gentle clean-up done from a trusted beauty advisor to help unclog them
3. Use a good quality cleanser and moisturizer meant for acne prone skin. Neutrogena has a wide variety of face washes as oil-free moisturizers that can help clean and nourish your skin but not aggravate the acne.
4. Take a break: The no. 1 cause of acne is stress. 20s & 30s can be a trying time for most adults as we begin to settle down and take on more and more responsibilities. Take some time out for yourself everyday – even 20 minutes is good. Do something you like – go for a walk, read a book, dance around to some hip-hop. Anything you like, but just chill.
5. Exfoliate 2-3 times a week: with a gentle cleanser. In our 30s, the cell turnover reduces drastically. Layers of dead cells on the surface make our skin look dull and can contribute to acne by blocking pore openings. Don’t use those crushed apricot and walnut granules. If you can’t find anything just rustle up a mixture of equal amounts of honey(anti-bacterial, soothing), lemon (anti-bacterial and helps lighten scars) and sugar granules (exfoliant). Use immediately.
6. Eat right: Acne is also a symptom of lack of certain nutrients in the body like Vitamin A and Zinc or of the liver is unable to remove toxins from the body. Make sure your diet is nutritionally balanced.
7. Ayurvedic remedy: Mix 5 powdered grams each of neem, turmeric, amla, sandalwood, and multani mitti with a little of water to create a smooth paste. Apply in the morning and evening, only on affected areas, let dry, then wash.
Swati, I hope this helps you.