Stop disregarding those breakouts as isolated incidents and start taking notice. Adult acne is far more common than you might think, and the effects can be serious, says Tracey Strange.
The fact that adult acne exists is unlikely to surprise you. What you may be interested to learn is how prolific it is. Fifty percent of adults over 25 suffer from it, sometimes chronically. Acne can be a serious, life-altering skin condition, and the psychological outcomes - from loss of self-esteem to deep depression - can be extreme.
All this is made even more sobering by the fact that acne can only be managed, not cured, says leading cosmetic physician Dr Teresa Cattin. There's no physiological difference between adult acne and that occurring in puberty, so how it's treated is generally the same whether you're 14 or 40.
What causes it is unknown. But it's certainly associated with hormonal fluctuations, which can make pregnancy a prime culprit (along with menopause and the Pill). Other links include genetics, vitamin deficiencies (see our story on supplements), stress, and certain medicines. It also pays to be careful with thick makeup, which can clog the pores.
Acne can be a bit of a changeling - appearing as anything from a red rash or bumpy skin, to distinctive pimples or boils. This means tackling it is often multi-handed.
No case of acne should be taken lightly. Professional help should always be sought if you feel your breakouts are getting “out of control”. But while your skin is being treated, there are a few things you can do to minimise acne’s appearance.
First, treat your skin gently. Avoid scrubs and toners containing alcohol.
Second, avoid products that can potentially clog the pores, particularly those containing petroleum.
Third, gentle clay masks can help soothe the skin but avoid any preparations that involve tingling or cooling ingredients such as menthol, camphor or eucalyptus as these can cause further irritation.
Fourth, use an exfoliant containing salicylic acid, or BHA. BHA has antibacterial properties and is also an anti-inflammatory.
Fifth, consider mineral-based or powder foundations since these can be less irritating to the skin.