How to deal with adult acne – IOL

Experts say adult acne also tends to be more persistent and the skin tends to be less resilient. Picture: Pixabay
Coming to terms with adult acne can be difficult – but rest assured, you’re not the only adult dealing with zits.

Adult skin tends to be more susceptible to inflammation, leading to cysts and deeper lesions, usually around the mouth, chin and jawline.

Experts say adult acne can also be more persistent and the skin tends to be less resilient.

Adults are also more likely to want to treat other skin concerns, such as signs of ageing, at the same time.

According to research done by the Department of Dermatology, School of Clinical Medicine, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine in 2017 (Acne in South African Black Adults), acne is the most common skin disorder diagnosed by dermatologists and other healthcare providers worldwide, and it mostly affects adolescents.

The research has found that the worldwide prevalence is 9.4%. In adolescents, the prevalence is 65 to 75%. In Durban, with a population of 2.9 million people, it has been documented as the second most common skin disease, with mainly females affected.

Melissa van der Riet, a training specialist at Dermalogica South Africa, says certain ingredients can help to reduce inflammation.

Van der Riet explains that adult acne is primarily caused by hormonal fluctuations, genetics, diet, chronic stress and environmental aggressors like sun exposure, pollution and extreme weather.

This can compromise the skin barrier and trigger or worsen inflammation, hyperpigmentation, dryness and dehydration, all of which can make the appearance of acne worse.

Help in finding the trigger to acne begins with recommending the right products, lifestyle adjustments (if necessary) and any further treatment options.

“The key when it comes to treating acne is using ingredients like salicylic acid and niacinamide, which focus on reducing excess sebum, stimulating natural exfoliation and the prevention of cell accumulation, controlling Pacnes bacteria and stopping inflammation,” says Van der Riet.

Before treating acne, you need to know the difference between scars and hyperpigmentation adds Van der Riet.


The difference between scarring and hyperpigmentation is that scarring is a result of picking at the breakout and can even develop on its own. If the acne is aggressive, there can be collagen loss in that area, which we know is the skin’s way of repairing itself. When this occurs, scars can develop and appear as a deep indentation in the skin.


Hyperpigmentation, too, can appear from picking a breakout, but we also see an increase in inflammation in the area which can cause red or purple marks on the skin’s surface. Hyperpigmentation requires less invasive treatments and having regular skin treatments with a focus on exfoliation will assist in fading these darker pigmented areas.

What are some of the home remedies that you can try to deal with adult acne?

For home care it’s important to use exfoliation at least three times a week to increase cell renewal and turnover, to assist in the fading of hyperpigmentation and preventing the cell accumulation on the skin.

Don’ts for acne

Do not pick at your skin as an incorrect extraction technique could lead to an increase in inflammation, breakouts and scarring.

Don’t use hot water or soap to wash your face as this will remove all the oils on your skin, impairing your barrier and leading the skin to overproduce oil to compensate for what you are removing.

Don’t use granular scrubs as this can aggravate the breakouts – use non-granular exfoliants that contain salicylic acid for best results.

Ensure you don’t leave the house without your broad-spectrum SPF to ensure the areas of hyperpigmentation don’t darken.

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