What causes acne in adults?

Although dermatologists aren't sure what exactly causes adult acne, breakouts can be related to several factors, including the following:

  • Hormones. Acne is essentially a hormonal disease. The body's hormones can become unbalanced at any time but are especially unstable during menopause, puberty and pregnancy. Unbalanced hormones produce a surplus of oil that clogs hair follicles where bacteria grow, and this in turn causes blemishes and pimples. Women often experience hormonal acne as part of their menstrual cycle. For some women, the solution to breakouts may be as simple as switching to a low-dose birth control pill.
  • Diet. Researchers have recently discovered a possible link between acne and the consumption of dairy products. Milk contains a hormone that causes an increase in the production of skin oils. When the skin is too oily, acne results. The same hormone also encourages the body to create cells. Drinking too much milk can cause an overabundance of skin cells, which clogs the pores and leads to acne. Although research on the dairy-acne connection is still in its early stages, talk to your doctor about making dietary changes to improve the appearance and health of your skin.
  • Stress. Stress can aggravate the symptoms of acne because it leads to an inflammatory response, causing pores in the skin to break. The body responds to breakage by creating pus and redness around the pore. Stress also causes the adrenal glands to increase their production of hormones, which can lead to acne. Your doctor can recommend healthy ways to deal with stress, like exercise and meditation. Making these activities part of your daily regimen can reduce both stress and breakouts.
  • Cosmetics. Using cosmetics to mask acne may seem like an obvious solution, but some types of makeup can actually cause blemishes. Cosmetic products containing lanolins, isopropyl myristate and D and C pigments are the worst offenders, but these chemicals and oils are found in all kinds of makeups, from concealers and blushes to eye shadows and even hair pomades.

If you experience acne, talk to your dermatologist about the products you use on your skin. Your doctor can recommend products that won't cause breakouts, and some that can even improve the appearance of acne.

Making an appointment with a dermatologist is an essential stepping stone to diagnosing your skin problems. Start with a list of dermatologists covered by your health insurance plan and look them up on Angie's List to see what kind of reviews they've received from other patients who are Angie's List members. For example, Angie's List includes more than 200 dermatologists in Indianapolis, of which around 150 have received top ratings in member reviews.

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Summer skin care: Preventing breakouts


Acne medicine can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
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Whether you're an acne sufferer or not, chances are you've found that the combination of heat, humidity and sunblock that signal summer can often result in breakouts. Here's how to avoid them.

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