Acne at 40: Causes and Treatment for Adult Hormonal Acne
Like most people, you may have thought that when you left your teen years behind, you were also leaving acne behind. Maybe in your twenties, you were annoyed to find that wasn’t the case. Certainly, by your thirties, you’d be done with it? Or can acne appear at any age? Acne at 50? Acne at 60? It can. And it does.
It turns out, no one is immune to breakouts at any age. Your hormones start to level out in your twenties, and that should mean acne levels out too, but that’s not always the case. For many, acne continues well into mid-life and even beyond. Let’s look at some of the most common acne triggers, which may explain the reasons you’re breaking out.
Women are more likely to experience acne in mid-life than men. Fortunately, at some point most acne sufferers reach a burn out point where they don't produce more acne. In men, the burn out age is usually the mid twenties. In women that age is less predictable.
- Hormonal Acne in Perimenopause:
Periods, pregnancy, the pill (getting off it generally), all cause hormone fluctuations that can trigger breakouts. And if you think you’re safe by the time you reach menopause, think again. Women going through menopause make up the largest percentage of adult acne sufferers. Beginning with perimenopause, estrogen levels drop, but androgen levels remain the same. The net effect is more androgen hormones. Without the estrogen to balance out the equation, sebum production increases. At the same time, cell metabolism is slowing. Increased sebum, plus sluggish cell turnover creates the perfect conditions for clogged pores and acne.
Stress is another trigger for acne, and let’s face it, adult life can get pretty stressful. Initially, the connection between stress and acne was anecdotal, but in recent years, studies have borne out the validity of the correlation. Sebum glands have a receptor for the stress hormone cortisol, and studies have shown that when stress ramps up, so does sebum and inflammation, which trigger flare-ups. Additionally, it’s thought that the psychological response to stress delays healing. There’s never been a better excuse for some me-time. Algae Soft Mask and a glass of wine, anyone?
Genetics also play a significant role in adult acne. In one study involving women over 25 experiencing acne, 67% reported a familial history of acne.
Certain medications are associated with the development of acne, including corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, testosterone, halogens, isoniazid, lithium, vitamin B-type complexes, serotonin uptake inhibitors, progestin contraceptives and some new anticancer agents.
- Pore-Clogging Ingredients
Your adult acne could be the result of cosmetic or skincare products that you’re using. A lot of products contain ingredients that clog pores, which could be triggering breakouts. Then, you may make it worse by attempting to cover the breakout with more makeup.
Check your labels for common comedogenic culprits like D & C pigments, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, sulfated oils, coconut oil, cottonseed oil, isocetyl stearate, isopropyl isostearate, isopropyl myristate, cetearyl alcohol stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, acetylated lanolin, squalene, dimethicone, and octyl palmitate. Even some acne treatments contain some of these ingredients, so look closely at the labels. Look for water-based or mineral products and cleanse thoroughly to remove all traces of makeup every night. Or better yet, try going makeup free!
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