There you are, an adult woman, long out of your teenage-acne years, going about your business, when boom — breakouts. Maybe lots of them! Maybe even at the same time as wrinkles! Yes, it’s unfair — but it happens. A lot. As you approach your thirties, “hormones start to change, and you’re suddenly seeing breakouts as the result,” says dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi. But before you take any knee-jerk action (like, heaven forbid, popping a pimple), know that treating zits at 25, 35, or 45 is entirely different from dealing with them at 15. The clogged surface pores typical of teen acne have given way to deeper, inflamed, often painful cystic breakouts along your chin, jawline, and upper neck (prime spots for hormonally caused flare-ups). How to deal? We’re fans of taking the long view: “Hormones change, they come up, they go down,” explains Dr Tanzi. “Usually we see breakouts for a couple of months, a year, then they dissipate.” But there are other factors, from birth control to stress, that could be prompting your skin freak-outs, and those you can control — if you can pinpoint them. “I tell my clients that they need to be good detectives,” says Los Angeles holistic facialist Terri Lawton. Get familiar with the possible causes here, and learn their solutions.
Related: Beat breakouts today!
Is it your birth control?
A few zits cropping up right around your period — we’ve all been there. But if you’re transitioning off birth control pills or the patch, you may experience more significant breakouts. “It wasn’t until I hit my mid-twenties, after bouncing on and off the Pill way too many times, that my hormones must have gone awry,” says Ariana King, 34, a human resources executive. “I developed horrible cystic acne around my chin.” To be clear, usually the Pill doesn’t cause breakouts; more often it curbs acne while you’re on it, leaving you more vulnerable to pimples when you go off it, explains dermatologist Bethanee Schlosser. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck popping a contraceptive for life, though. Every specialist we interviewed for this story agreed that if you want to go off the Pill and are prone to flare-ups, you should consider a low dose of an oral med called spironolactone. “Outside of birth control and spironolactone,” says dermatologist Rosemarie Ingleton, “there’s really no way to [stabilise] your hormones.” The medication typically takes a few months to clear your skin, says Dr Tanzi, and it may cause menstrual irregularities and breast tenderness. And note that you can’t take this, or the heavy-duty prescription acne medication Accutane, while pregnant or trying to conceive. (“Accutane is often a last effort because of its many risks,” says Dr Tanzi, “but it can be a lifesaver for people with stubborn acne.”) Women who are expecting should also avoid topicals with salicylic acid and retinoids, notes Dr Ingleton, but in-office treatments like blue light therapy (to zap bacteria) are an option during pregnancy, while hormones are in flux.
Related: Acne myths, busted!
Is it your stress?
The anxiety-acne connection is clear: Cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, increases inflammation and causes deep-from- within breakouts. “When your life is out of control, your face has a way of telling you,” explains Dr Ingleton. “I talk to patients about stress reduction, which usually goes on deaf ears, because we’re all in this mad race.” But if clear skin is the end goal, make it a priority to get your recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night, then rein in the stressful moments during your day. “If I don’t sleep well, that’s when I break out, and 90 percent of the time it’s on my chin,” says Feran Morgret, 30, a marketing manager in Los Angeles. “When I’m exercising regularly — Pilates, running — I’m sleeping better, and my skin calms down.” Dr Tanzi is also a proponent of exercise for getting rid of acne: “Working out is great because it increases blood flow to the skin. It also reduces cortisol levels and helps sleep.”
Related: 7 Tips for managing stress
Is it your diet?
“Lots of carbs, processed sugar — these foods have been associated with acne,” says Dr Schlosser. Dairy is also inflammatory in certain people, she notes. While particular food sensitivities depend on the individual, “a redness to the skin means inflammation in the body,” explains Lawton. So look at what you’re eating, and keep an eye on your acne. “I tried everything to get my skin under control, even Accutane,” says Liza Murphy, 30, a research executive in New York City. “In the end, changing my diet was the most effective. Now I stay away from sugar, dairy, and bread. After a month, the inflamed zits and peeling skin cleared away.” If your breakouts are food-related, changing your diet should work within weeks, observes Dr Tanzi.
Related: Top 10 skin clearing foods
Or is it your products?
A final adult-acne factor: what you’re putting on your face. Rich moisturisers may clog pores, exacerbating breakouts. So, as a basic guideline, we recommend looking for items that are noncomedogenic, meaning they’ve been tested on acne-prone skin and do not contain breakout-causing ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, or petrolatum.
So what’s the big lesson here? “Acne is not a life sentence,” insists Dr Tanzi. And with your new game plan, it can actually be quite manageable. Glad we cleared that up. Now you can get on with your more grown-up problems.
Taken from GLAMOUR US. Read the original article here.