Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Stay Clear of Adult Acne

How to Stay Clear of Adult Acne

Picture someone with acne—go ahead, we'll wait. Got an image in mind? Chances are you conjured visions of the teen next door or that pimply boy from high school. But experts say the face of acne is changing, and these days, it looks more like... you. Research shows 35% of women in their 30s, 26% in their 40s, and 15% age 50+ battle breakouts. Here, four common triggers—and fixes that help.

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1. Hormonal Changes

Whenever your body experiences a spike in "male" hormones such as testosterone, oil production increases—and that can cause a clogged pore where P. acnes bacteria grows, leading to inflammation and pimples. This may occur more frequently during perimenopause, but it also happens just before your period. (Women over the age of 33 are more likely to get premenstrual pimples than younger women are, according to one study.)

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2. Your Diet

Greasy food doesn't cause a greasy face, but the items listed below may exacerbate an already-brewing condition.

Simple carbs and sugar. Any food that leads to a spike in your blood sugar (such as pasta, bread, and sweets) can trigger skin's inflammatory response and provoke a breakout, according to Linda K. Franks, MD, a dermatologist in New York City.

Dairy. Several studies have shown a link between dairy products and pimples, perhaps because of the hormones that are present in these foods. Buying organic can help: Traditional dairy products can come from hormone-fed animals, so they often have more hormones than their organic counterparts.

Chocolate. A small study presented at the February 2011 meeting of the Academy of Dermatology found a correlation between the amount of chocolate that participants consumed (only men were studied, so as to minimize the role of hormonal influence) and the number of acne lesions they developed.

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3. Stress

If the thought of cutting back on chocolate stresses you out, though, please relax! Experts say stress can lead to acne by signaling the release of cortisol, a hormone that tells your body to produce more pore-clogging oil.

4. Medical Conditions

Health issues with a hormonal component, such as high testosterone levels or polycystic ovarian syndrome, are often-overlooked causes of acne. "PCOS affects 5 to 10% of women, and many of them suffer for years without realizing they have it," says Mitch Chasin, MD, the medical director of Reflections Center for Skin & Body in Livingston, NJ. If your acne is accompanied by excessive hair growth or irregular periods, it's worth talking to your doctor, who may do a blood test or ultrasound to determine whether or not you have PCOS. If you do, the condition—and other types of hormone imbalances—can often be treated with a medication such as an oral contraceptive or antiandrogen.
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