What is Adult Acne?
Adult acne is acne that occurs after adolescence, in adults over the age of 25 in Singapore. Acne, also known medically as acne vulgaris, is a skin condition where your hair follicles become plugged with oil, dirt and dead skin cells, causing whiteheads, blackheads or pimples.
Acne usually happens in teenagers who are going through puberty, but it can happen to older adults as well. It is a distressing condition that many adults face, but can be managed with proper skincare techniques and treatments.
What are the common causes of Adult Acne in Singapore?
Frankly, it’s the same few factors of adolescent acne at play that contribute to adult acne. The four factors directly affecting acne are:
- Excess oil production
- Clogged pores
Some other indirect factors that influence acne are:
- Hormones – these can be affected by the menstrual cycle in women and affect oil production.
- Stress – this affects hormones, immunity, oil production, and inflammation.
- Contact irritation – irritation caused by harsh cleansers or razors can lead to inflammation of the skin
- Personal care products – hair products, thick makeup, use of unclean makeup brushes and sponges can clog up your pores.
- Diet – this is rather controversial but there is sufficient evidence to suggest high glycemic index food and dairy products can cause more acne in some patients.
- Medication – some medications like corticosteroids, anabolic steroids and anti-epileptics may cause acne.
- Underlying diseases – Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endocrine disorders may cause acne.
Inform your doctor if you have any other severe or persistent symptoms along with acne, as they may be signs of an underlying condition that requires medical attention.
What are the common symptoms of Adult Acne in Singapore?
Symptoms of adult acne may include:
- Blackheads – open plugged pores
- Whiteheads – closed plugged pores
- Papules – red bump with no pus
- Small pustules/pimples – inflamed papules with pus
- Nodules – big, solid, painful lumps under the skin
- Deep cysts – painful, pus-filled lumps under the skin
What are the risk factors for Adult Acne?
- Greasy or oily substances - When your skin comes into contact with oily or greasy substances like lotions or creams, or if your skin is unwashed after a long day, the oil could accumulate in your skin and cause acne. To get rid of bacteria, grease and dirt that could clog pores, wash your skin with a cleanser daily.
- Genetics - If you have a family history of acne, you are more likely to develop acne problems. Genetics tend to affect your skin type, and the amount of oil naturally secreted by your skin. Despite being a natural protective barrier and waterproof layer, too much oil can spell bad news for your skin.
- Hormones - Hormonal changes during puberty or pregnancy tend to trigger acne. People with acne tend to have lower levels of estrogen and higher levels of other hormones such as testosterone (male hormone that causes production of sebum), insulin (helps with sugar absorption) or glucocorticoid (steroid hormone regulating body’s fluids and temperature). Insulin may also result in the production of more androgens, thereby increasing production of oil by the hair follicles. Hormones may also be affected by other factors like stress and medication.
- Diet - High glycaemic index foods are broken down quickly by the body and cause a spike in blood glucose, thereby raising insulin levels, causing increased inflammation and oil production. Some of these high carbohydrate foods include:
-- Soft drinks
-- White bread
-- Potato chips
-- French fries
Besides high-glycaemic carbohydrates, other things like dairy, saturated fats and trans fats are also known to stimulate the production of hormones that cause excess oil to be secreted by oil glands, as well as increased inflammation.