Spot of bother
Help! I'm nearly 40 years old and still getting pimples. What can I do and what products should I use?
"Adult acne is caused by the clogging up of pores by sebum, which is an oily substance that is produced by the skin's sebaceous [oil] glands," explains Dr Gavin Chan (right), a specialist in dermatology at SkinCentral. "Clogged pores are visible as blackheads and whiteheads, and, when inflamed, become red, unsightly bumps, pustules or cysts."
The causes of adult acne are broad and can include stress, hormonal changes and underlying medical conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, according to Chan. For mild cases, he suggests products containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid or prescription topical retinoid products.
French skincare brand Avène's TriAcnèal treatment cream contains salicylic acid, glycolic acid and a gentle form of retinoid, known as retinaldehyde, which is suitable for mature skin.
Chan also recommends glycolic acid peels (at home, try Natura Bisse's Glyco Extreme Peel) and microdermabrasion to help with exfoliation. More serious cases often require prescription medications such as oral antibiotics or contraceptives, which can be used in combination with topical products.
"People having inflamed acne bumps, pustules or cysts should seek medical advice and treatment early, as these forms of acne are prone to leaving discoloration and permanent scarring," Chan says. "People with mild acne not responding to over-the-counter topical medications should also seek professional help to help formulate an individualised treatment regimen."
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