Acne in adults: “less known, but more damning”

Acne in adults: “less known, but more damning”

Acne is usually related to adolescence. In fact, the first image that usually comes to mind when we talk about this pathology is that of a high school student with a face full of pimples. However, more and more adults are suffering from this type of facial breakouts, especially serious in the case of women. “Acne in both young and old people is an inflammation of the hair follicles on the face (where hair growth occurs) due to obstruction or bacterial colonization (or both), and its origin is basically hormonal,” he clarifies. dermatologist Ana Molina.

Regardless of the causes and how “tedious” its treatment is, specialists insist that “it is a problem that has a solution and that most of us are going to have to face at some point in our lives, since “It affects eight out of every ten young people and almost half of adult women,” adds the specialist. Juvenile acne occurs in adolescents – both girls (earlier) and boys (longer duration) – starting with puberty and usually improves as they come of age. In that case, “the breakouts are due to a rise in androgens and appear mainly on the cheeks and forehead, while late acne mainly affects adult women – from the age of 24 – and pimples usually appear on the face.” lower part of the face and in the neck, generating much deeper lesions. It is less known, but much more evil,” summarizes Dr. Molina.

The origin of acne in adults has an important hormonal component, although other external factors such as stress, poor diet, tobacco or pollution also play a role. «In addition, it usually appears in women who have stopped taking contraceptives after a long time and usually responds worse to cosmetics. “This persistence of lesions not only increases the risk of scarring, but also usually affects the quality of life of patients in a similar way to diseases such as psoriasis,” they warn in the Acne Unit of the Pedro Jaén Group.


One of the keys to successfully treating acne and avoiding unsightly scars is to “act as soon as possible and avoid home remedies.” “Prevention is better than treatment,” specialists agree. Now, today there are “excellent solutions” to end this problem and “most treatments usually take two to four months to produce their maximum effect,” points out Ramón Grimalt, professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the Universitat International of Catalonia.

Topical treatments (with active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, erythromycin, clindamycin, tretinoin, retinoic acid, azelaic…) are usually the first option for people with mild to moderate acne. «They should be applied not only to individual lesions but to the entire affected area (forehead, nose, chin, cheekbones…) every night or twice a day. As they are products that dry the skin, they often cause irritation, especially at first,” says Dr. Grimalt.

Oral antibiotics can also be prescribed, which must be administered for the time recommended by the dermatologist and the results are usually visible within a month. «Although if something has revolutionized the treatment of acne, it is isotretinoin, the famous Roacután. “It is a very effective, definitive and safe active ingredient that all dermatologists love because it is capable of ending severe acne, although it is also used at lower doses to treat more moderate breakouts or late-onset acne,” adds the Dr. Molina. Scars can also be treated, but it is important to be aware that treatments, with laser to the head, can improve their appearance by 60% or 70%, but do not eliminate them completely.

Myths and truths about acne

It is due to lack of hygiene

“It is not like this. Hygiene is necessary and we must wash our face daily, but it is not necessary to do it with a specific cleanser,” they clarify in the Pedro Jaén Group Acne Unit.

Parents with acne, children with acne?

«There is a hereditary tendency that involves several genes. That is, children of parents who have suffered from severe acne are more likely to suffer from it because the number and size of the sebaceous glands is usually inherited, in addition to their secretory activity,” the specialists point out.

Eating chocolate makes you break out

«Outbreaks are not related to a specific food, but to a poor diet in general. A recent study confirms a clear relationship between the worsening of acne in predisposed patients and a diet rich in ultra-processed foods, sugars and fats, but not with a specific product. In other words, if our diet is balanced because one day we eat a chocolate bar, we will not get pimples on our faces,” highlights dermatologist Ana Molina.

Sunbathing eliminates it

“Lie. It has always been said that acne subsides in summer, but that is not the case. Sunbathing dries out the skin and can give the sensation that pimples are disappearing. However, this is not exactly the case, since the cause (hormonal factors and hyperproduction of sebum) is still there,” they remember in the Pedro Jaén Group.

Smoking makes flares worse

TRUE. Tobacco behaves as a promoting factor in the maintenance of acne, especially in adult women. A study reveals that half of smoking women between 35 and 50 years old have pimples and comedones.

And the stress?

“There is no doubt that emotional stress is capable of worsening acne,” specialists agree.

Exploding grains is not so bad

«One of the most difficult things when we have acne is to suppress the desire to break out those white pimples that sometimes appear on our face. Mistake. It is better not to do it because they heal better if we leave them alone. By squeezing them with your nails we can worsen the inflammation and cause poor scarring,” warns Dr. Molina.

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