A question most often asked is, “Why am I still getting acne cysts and blemishes as an adult? My teenage years are long gone.” The answer is, hormones. After your teenage years, hormonal fluctuations are carried over which makes it normal for breakouts to occur when you’re well into you 20s, 30s, and even beyond that.
You may notice that you can go weeks without a single blemish, but then one day your perfectly clear skin is clear no more. Why is that? Is it stress? Is it diet? Is it from not washing your face? Is it from your dirty cell phone screen? PMS? The answer may not be as simple as we would like. However, there are a few things that you can take note of to help your skin. Ask yourself these questions when a blemish decides to say, “hello”. You just might find the solution.
#1 Are you touching your face consistently?
Subconsciously touching your face all day can quickly turn your face into the dirtiest part of your body. The bacteria and germs that transfer to your hands from everything you touch, transfers to your face every time you go to stroke your chin, scratch your cheek, or lean your face against your hand at your desk. It’s important to wash your skin each night, but it also helps to not touch your face unnecessarily. This is one of the major causes of breakouts.
Tip: Keep your hands occupied by getting a toy or gadget that you can play with when you’re distracted to keep yourself from touching your skin.
#2 Have you been consuming too much dairy?
When cystic breakouts develop (those painful, hard, underground bumps that seem to linger for weeks), on the jawline, neck, and chin area, this may be a sign that you’re eating more dairy than your body can handle. When your body doesn’t agree with something, the skin acts as an excretory system to rid it of those things. Dairy is harder to digest, so when you up your dairy intake, your body has a harder time getting rid of it. This may cause the cystic blemishes to appear on the lower half of the face.
Tip: To best determine if your dairy intake is the source of your acne cysts, completely cut dairy from your diet for about 3 weeks. To keep yourself accountable, keep a food diary and log everything you eat. If new cysts don’t develop, then you may have solved your problem. This doesn’t mean you have to stop eating dairy, just make sure you regulate your intake and slowly introduce diary back into your diet. The point at which you begin breaking out will tell you what your body’s tolerance level is.
#3 Are you under a huge amount of stress?
Stress not only affects acne flare-ups, it also worsens the overall skin condition. An overproduction of cortisol is induced by the adrenal glands. This is a steroid that causes the sebaceous glands to make more oil, which makes the skin extra oily. So, in stressful times, people who experience an increase in acne get more pus-filled, inflamed papules than a simple whitehead or blackhead.
Tip: The simplest solution to help reduce stress is to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. The research behind this has proven it to be a fact. Lack of sleep affects every part of your well-being, health, physiology, and both mental and physical performance. Sleep is essential for, not only tissue regeneration and repair, but also to help you maintain a strong immune system (which is needed to fight off acne). When your body is under too much stress and fatigue, the difference that sleep can make is astounding.
#4 Are you washing your skin every night?
It’s important to note that sleeping with your makeup on is a huge no-no. Just think about all the dirt, oil, and debris that has built upon your skin during the day. The combination of these can trigger new blemishes. You must faithfully practice the habit of removing your makeup and washing your skin every night if you desire a clean and healthy-looking complexion.
Tip: The main reason that people don’t wash their face in the evening is exhaustion. Try starting your night time skin routine earlier in the evening when you are less tired. Your skin greatly benefits from this. Were you aware that your skin begins to repair itself once the day turns from light to dark? This gives your skin a clean palette for performing your night time skin regimen.
#5 Have you started using new skincare products?
When new products are introduced into your skincare routine, some initial blemish purging may be experienced. This may be true if the products are exfoliating your skin more than it’s used too. (This can be good; exfoliants rebuild the skin’s natural cell turnover process). Though, if the purging doesn’t end after 4-6 weeks, this means the product is probably not a good fit for your skin.
Tip: When using a new product, focus on that one for 3-4 days before introducing a second new product. It’ll be easier to determine which product is hurting your skin if it reacts negatively. Though, some breakouts may begin weeks before they appear, so this may not be a very sufficient test. It’s a good place to start though if you experience an allergic or rash reaction.
#6 Are you about to start your menstrual cycle?
At the start of your menstrual cycle, it’s not uncommon to receive a surge of blemishes, though it can be very frustrating. Before a woman’s cycle, there is more progesterone in the skin. This is a cause for water retention, which results in a puffier appearance. (This will be familiar if you can remember times where you’ve felt bloated or your pants have become a little tight.)
When water retention occurs, it puts pressure on the pores which creates a narrower pore lining. During this time, an imbalance of hormones takes place which causes in an increase of testosterone. This increase produces thicker oil and when the thicker oil tries to get through those narrow pore openings, it creates a perfect environment for breakouts within the skin.
Tip: Vitamin B-6 can help regulate hormonal imbalances. Try taking some every day for one week prior to your menstrual cycle. Calcium-magnesium supplements can also help during this time. It is also helpful to slightly adjust your skincare routine to minimize bacteria. This can be safely done by making a switch to a cleanser with salicylic acid.
#7 Do you suspect your hormones may be off?
Hormones are chemical messengers which are created by the body to regulate everything from cell growth to metabolism to reproductive cycles and mood. When they fluctuate, they can trigger depression, weight gain, fatigue, and sleeplessness in addition to breakouts and adult acne. An inconsistent, sporadic, or even nonexistent monthly cycle is a common sign of hormonal imbalances.
Tip: Check with your physician or gynecologist to see if they can run tests to check your hormone levels. If there is an imbalance, they may have recommendations to treat the imbalance internally.
#8 Have the weather temperatures been shifting from day to day?
Your skin can be left confused when the seasons are changing. The weather going from warm one day to cold the next can leave you with unbalanced skin and blemishes.
Tip: Adjust your skincare routine ever so slightly. You don’t want to go overboard and switch your entire routine to acne-focused products. That kind of overcompensating can leave you with dry and irritated skin. To properly address sudden breakouts, temporarily switch to an exfoliating acid serum that has salicylic acid in it.
And there we have it. These are some of the most common reasons for breakouts amongst adults. It’s challenging to find the exact reason, but hopefully you’ve been given some fresh insight and ideas on what to try to help keep your skin fresh, clean, and blemish free.