Whilst most commonly experienced during adolescence, acne is not restricted to the teenage years. The truth is adults get acne too! Regardless of age, acne occurs when there is an increase in the production of sebum (an oil that keeps your skin soft and supple) in the skin which, combined with an increase in the number of dead skin cells around skin pores, leads to clogging of the skin follicles. Bacteria then accumulate in the skin follicles, causing inflammation.
There are two types of adult acne. 'Persistent acne,' which is when problem skin carries through from adolescence into adulthood, and 'late-onset acne' which starts after the age of 25, with people in their 30s and even 40s developing the condition. Possible causes include hormonal fluctuations, cosmetics and stress.
Herbs used to treat acne include Echinacea, calendula and burdock. These exert an antibiotic effect, as well as improving lymphatic drainage, supporting the immune system and helping to purify the bloodstream and skin. Other supplements that support skin health, particularly for acne, include zinc, vitamin C and vitamin A, often available in combination. Examples of supplements include SkinB5 Acne Control Advanced Time Release and Swisse Hair Skin and Nails.
Make sure to keep skin clean, use natural make-up and skincare products and wash make-up brushes regularly. A misconception among acne sufferers is that skin should be squeaky clean. The reality is that skin is designed to have the protective sebum covering. The problem is the clogged sebum. When skin becomes dry, more sebum is produced to compensate, and congestion worsens. Use a light moisturiser containing aloe vera, calendula or tea tree after cleaning your face, such as Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Medicated Gel for Acne or Papulex Isocorrexion Hydrating Cream.
Other over-the-counter medications that can be used include salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is a topically applied anti-inflammatory chemical to treat the inflamed skin around the pimple. Benzoyl peroxide (such as in Panoxyl Acne Gel and Benzac AC Gel) is a beta-hydroxy acid that penetrates the skin's oily layer, clears blockages and kills bacteria. Make sure to start on a low concentration and increase over time.
If pimples don't respond to over-the-counter treatments (allow them three or four months), see your GP. They can offer a range of prescription drugs, such as contraceptive pills and antibiotics that target the main causes of acne: hormones, blocked pores and Propionibacterium infection.