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Hot Flash: My War Against Adult Acne

By Barbara Bishop


Wrinkles, frown lines and acne? It just isn’t fair. A couple of years ago, I started to get a few zits on my left cheek. They went away pretty quickly. But lately, they have come back and are lingering. It totally pisses me off, because I take impeccable care of my skin. I pride myself in having nearly flawless, young-looking skin.

The war against my acne is on! But what’s an adult with acne to do? I consulted my family doctor, Web MD. Here’s what I uncovered:

There are many reasons you can break out as an adult. Stress (check!), changes in your hormone levels, like menopause (check!) or switching or stopping birth control pills, all are possibilities.

Rule number one: don’t pop your pimples. Your dermatologist can likely treat the problem in his/her office. In some cases, it may be related to another condition. One thing to do (that I do religiously,) is cleanse your skin every day, but no more than twice a day. (check!) But I admit it, I have popped a pimple or two in my lifetime.

To wash your face, use cool or warm water and a gentle cleanser. Use your hands, a baby washcloth (it’s gentler than a regular one), or a cleansing brush for 30 seconds. Pat (don’t rub) your skin dry.

Web MD tells me the types of products you can use to curb your acne include:

Cleansers. Cleansers wash away dirt, grime, makeup, and pollution. A good cleanser will also let other skin products reach your skin and work better.

Over-the-Counter Creams and Lotions. Retinoid creams or lotions can help clear your skin and also lessen wrinkles. Products made with sulfur can be good for the occasional spot treatment. Benzoyl peroxide is another acne fighter. Use benzoyl peroxide products only occasionally, because they can dry out your skin.

Cosmetics. Some cosmetics include salicylic acid, which fights acne. In general, look for skin care products that say on the label that they are noncomedogenic (which means they don’t clog pores) or non-acnegenic (they don’t cause breakouts).

Prescription Medications. You might discuss antibiotic pills and prescription retinoids with your dermatologist. Doctors may prescribe Aldactone (spironolactone) which was first made to treat high blood pressure, to treat acne. Isotretinoin is another prescription drug for acne, but you can’t take it if you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant. No problems here taking it!

High-tech solutions. Light therapy, or PDT, uses lasers to treat acne. Some people say it hurts. Vacuum therapy also works with lights. Both of these options can be expensive.

I wash my face with a cleanser twice a day, use noncomedogenic cosmetics, and get facials that use vacuum therapy. I also have used Benzoyl peroxide on occasion.

Stop popping! Adult acne is best left to the professionals.

Maybe before I see a dermatologist, I’ll stop popping them…

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