No matter how much we claim to value people’s inner worth over their outer appearance, what we see when we meet someone for the first time can color our assessment of value. that man’s. At the very least, that’s what many adults with acne dread, keeping them away from social or professional encounters for fear of their facial flaws making a bad impression or even being rejected.

Acne is often thought of as a teenage problem that will subside by the college years and become history when it comes time to find a job. However, according to a survey published in 2008 of 1,013 adults aged 20 and over, 35% of women and 20% of men said they had trouble with facial acne in their teens. 30. Even among those 50 and older, 15% of women and 7% of men said they still struggle with these breakouts. And experts say acne has become an increasingly common problem among adult women in recent years.

In some cases, problems with teenage acne persist into their teen years, but others develop acne for the first time as adults. “Because fewer peers have the disease, adult acne is more likely to be isolated from,” says Dr. John S. Barbieri, an acne specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. more social than teenage acne. .

Natalie Kretzing, a 27-year-old medical student in Philadelphia, had only moderate acne in her teens, which turned into severe cystic acne around age 22. “I want to be respected as a young professional, but acne makes me feel like a non-adult,” she tells me. “I had to spend so much time on looks and makeup that it made me tired, and I often had to cancel plans. I can’t be spontaneous because it will take me a lot of time to prepare. ”

Although it appears to be a skin problem on the surface, acne is actually a disorder complicated by the interaction between different components of the skin and human hormones. Acne lesions are caused when the hair follicles on the skin become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, which together provide food for bacteria. Hormonal imbalances and emotional stress can make matters worse.

Diet has long been to blame, and there is growing evidence that modern diets can actually affect the incidence and severity of acne, Dr. reported last year. Although some people react adversely to a particular food, there is generally an association with consumption of dairy and foods high in added sugars and refined starches. These foods increase insulin and insulin-like growth factor, hormones that can promote acne development.

In a study of 50 adult women with moderate to severe acne recently published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, Dr. for mental and emotional health. These women often experience problems with depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Like Ms. Kretzing, they feel insecure at work and in dating, and often resort to obsessive measures to hide their acne from others. Similarly, British dermatologists also note that many adult acne patients see their feelings summarized as: “No one likes spoiled goods.”

However, the lesions don’t have to be extensive or particularly severe for acne to be bothersome to sufferers. “The problem is patient-defined. Dr. Emmy Graber, president of the Boston Institute of Dermatology, said: “If people were bothered enough to seek my care, their acne was severe enough to be treated. They could be embarrassing. Even on Zoom calls, they may try to position the camera so that their acne is less visible.”

Most people with acne try pre-treatment with over-the-counter products, like topical retinoids, which can be very helpful for people with mild cases and sporadic flare-ups. Topical retinoids can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn, so people using them should be careful when out in the sun.

More severe cases of acne may require a combination of over-the-counter products and prescription oral treatment, such as Accutane (isotretinoin), a vitamin A derivative that reduces oil production by the glands out on the skin. Because retinoids can cause serious birth defects, women using Accutane must join a program that ensures they don’t get pregnant.

Doctors have also long prescribed oral antibiotics, which can take years to control acne, but that regimen carries the risk of contributing to the rise of resistant bacteria. More recently, for women with hormone-related acne, long-term antibiotics have been replaced with spironolactone, a prescription oral blood pressure medication. The drug has proven highly effective for women like Ms Kretzing, who no longer worry about how people perceive her. “It made a huge difference in my attitude,” she says, “I am more carefree, spontaneous and confident.”

In fact, her now successful acne treatment prompted her to go to medical school, and she hopes to eventually help patients like her get the right acne treatment as quickly as possible. Delaying resolution of cystic acne like hers can lead to permanent scarring.

Whatever treatment method is used, patience is required; It may take six to eight weeks to see desired results.

Diet. Limit the consumption of sweets, starches and fast foods, relying mainly on a nutrient-rich diet with lots of vegetables and fruits. If you suspect you have a flare-up after eating a particular food, eliminate them for a few weeks to see if that helps.

Minimize stress. It doesn’t cause acne, but can make it worse. Reducing your stress with relaxing activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, and relaxing hobbies can help.

Try covering up. Flare-ups can often be made less obvious by using water-based makeup, moisturizer, and tinted sunscreen. Choose products that are labeled hypoallergenic, which means they won’t clog your pores. Men with acne are often able to hide blemishes under their facial hair.

Raise your spirits. Know that you are not alone. Many adults suffer from acne. Build resilience by reminding yourself that you are more than just a shell; Try to show a positive outlook to the world.

Get good professional help. If, after a few months, the treatment recommended by your doctor has not helped significantly, consider seeing another specialist.


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