Acne can occur later on in life and acne beyond the twenties, a condition known as adult acne, is very common. In adult acne, the pimple is called a comedo by doctors. It consists of skin tissues, keratin, and fat that plugs up the hair follicle. If the pimple is open, it is called a blackhead, and when it is closed, it is called a whitehead. The whiteheads in adult acne are what cause the rupturing of the walls of the hair follicle. When this happens, redness, pustules, papules, and infection occur.
While it remains known that boys have a higher probability of having acne scars, it is also known that women have a higher probability of adult acne. A common misconception is that adult acne is the result of inadequate hygiene. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Both teen acne and adult acne are a result of hormones causing extreme oil buildup and a clogging of the pores containing the hair follicle. Because the flux of the problem lies in hormone fluctuations, women are more likely to have adult acne through the varying degrees of fluctuations that occur in their monthly cycle.
Many dermatologists suggest that as many as 30%-50% of women have adult acne. Adult acne is likely caused by a genetic history coupled with hormonal fluctuations. The monthly cycles in women tend to be similar among family members through the bloodline. Thus, women who are afflicted with adult acne because of hormonal fluctuations will likely pass these same hormone fluctuations to their female offspring. Furthermore, women who have a family history of adult acne will be predisposed to the condition and will also have similar hormonal fluctuations as other women in their family.
As skin sheds on a daily basis, it sometimes causes a clog in the hair follicle or pore. Hormone fluctuations will then cause oil to produce ultimately lodges in the plugged-up hair follicle. This is the ideal place for bacteria to flourish. When this happens, adult acne is the result and because there are thousands of hair follicles and pores on the face, this provides ample room for bacteria to create their own little community. It generally takes approximately 2 weeks for this process to produce a pimple, debunking the myth that the bar of Twix that you had on your coffee break will be the source of your morning breakout.
If you know that you have adult acne, attempts at prevention may be your best defense. Many women know their cycles well enough to know when they can expect breakouts of adult acne and attempt prevention methods accordingly. Most often, these occur in conjunction with the most extreme hormone fluctuations in the cycle, typically around ovulation and before the menstrual period. Gently washing the face no more than twice a day is a great prevention method, and using products containing benzoyl peroxide and alpha-hydroxyl acid for cleansing are excellent means at combatting adult acne. Sometimes, however, the battle against hormones is impossible. Talk to a dermatologist if you think that your adult acne is severe because there are prescription-strength medications available.