Whether you ’ re suffering from a full-blown breakout , or just a few unsightly blemishes , there ’ s something taboo about getting spots as an adult and it ’ s one that can lead to self-consciousness . If you ’ re someone that ’ s suffering , however , don ’ t be timid about seeking out a solution – a 2016 study of over 90 private dermatology clinics discovered a 200 per cent rise in the number of adults seeking out specialist acne treatment , an affliction that professionals feel is largely on the rise due to increased stress and poor nutrition . So , what exactly is acne and what can we do about it ? BY POLLY HUMPHRIS
What is acne ?
Acne can develop in several different types of spots on several different parts of the body . Caused by the over-production of oil from sebaceous glands , which leads to blocked and inflamed pores , acne takes the form of blackheads , whiteheads , papules ( inflamed small red bumps ), pustules ( papules with a white , pus-filled centre ), nodules ( hard lumps under the skin ’ s surface ), and cysts , which have a similar appearance to boils . Although spots normally cluster on the face , they can also flare up on the neck , back and chest .
What causes it ?
Hormones : Women are five times more likely to suffer from acne than men simply for having to cope with fluctuating hormones during pregnancy , monthly menstrual cycles and the effects of switching methods of contraception between the pill , the coil and patches .
Stress : Many leading dermatologists have attributed the rise of adult acne in women to trying to ‘ have it all ’ and working full time while raising a family . Our skin is a reflection of what ’ s going on in the inside – burning the candle at both ends , whether those ends are a busy family , a demanding job , or late nights and lack of sleep , are all contributing factors .
Skincare : Both men and women are guilty of reaching for the next wonder product in the hope of banishing wrinkles – a lot of antiageing products are very high in acids and oils and can overload the skin however , resulting in breakouts .
Diet : Starchy and sugary foods , drinks with a high glycemic index like sodas and processed fruit juices , and alcohol (* sob *) are all key players in the acne game because they instigate sebum production .
What can you do about it ?
If you ’ re not sure what ’ s causing your acne , try keeping a food diary and working out if a particular food is making it worse ; process of elimination should then help you work out what to avoid . You can also opt for over-the-counter treatments containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide , or book an appointment with your GP who might suggest oral and topical antibiotics , vitamin A derivative creams ( retinoids ), or oral contraceptives .
If you ’ re not getting results that way , or you ’ d rather cut to the quick and seek expert advice , a hormone balance expert will probe your diet and lifestyle , as well as test for any deficiencies and intolerances helping you determine what you should cut down on , or avoid completely . A psychodermatology clinic – an area of medicine that fuses psychiatry with dermatology – will try and work out what ’ s causing the stress that ’ s causing your skin problems and then work with you towards overcoming those causes .