Our reader asked:

Why do adults get pimples? How should adults treat them?

Conceal Pimples Without Aggravating Them 2

There are a few factors that can contribute to adult acne – the top three being stress, diet and hormones. Stress causes the oil glands to work harder, leading to an overproduction of oil that can clog pores. Hormones can have the same effect, prompting sebaceous glands to produce more oil. This excess oil, when combined with dead skin cells and bacteria, is what leads to blackheads and pimples. As for diet, there isn’t one food you can eat that will result in breakouts – no need to shun the occasional piece of chocolate! However, eating a healthy, nutrient, water-rich diet is very important, as 80% of the skin’s needs come from proper nutrition as topical products can only treat 20% of the skin’s needs.

Adult and teenagers suffering from acne are different in that adult skin is not as resilient as teenage skin and therefore needs a gentler approach. Adults should seek topical products specifically formulated to reduce breakouts while minimizing the signs of aging as they are gentler on the skin. The formula should help to clear acne without over drying skin thereby causing wrinkles to look more pronounced. If over-the-counter topical products are not helping the problem, I would recommend scheduling an appointment with their dermatologist to help uncover the underlying issue causing their breakouts.

Your treatment strategy should be specific to adult skin. For all my patients, I recommend an Inclusive approach to treatment, incorporating topical, emotional, and internal strategies for optimal skin health.

Topically, adult acne sufferers should use products specifically formulated with ingredients such as encapsulated Salicylic Acid to provide sustained release that continues to treat acne even after rinsing, amino acids and Hyaluronic Acid that will bind moisture to skin, and antioxidants to neutralize free radicals and preserve a more youthful appearance. Look for a full line of products – cleanser, treatment and moisturizer – that are specifically formulated to treat acne and aging skin.

Diet, exercise, and emotional well-being are also important factors in helping to prevent adult acne. Our skin truly is reflection of how we live our lives and often times what is appearing on the skin is actually a symptom of a larger issue inside the body. I recommend a lot of things to my patients that seem unconnected to skin at first, but actually can play a huge role in yielding healthy skin. For example, spend time with friends, detach from the world to de-stress, get regular facials, and eat whole grains and essential fatty acids at breakfast to reduce the production of stress hormones. “Beauty sleep” is another thing I strongly recommend; many women in their 20s, 30s and 40s are busy balancing relationships, new job responsibilities, family duties, friends, and much more. Sleep will stimulate growth and cell reproduction, refresh the body and essentially make skin look and feel better.

As I’ve mentioned, food can have a strong effect on what appears on the skin. To help clear acne, eat foods with Vitamin A like carrots, sweet potato and cantaloupe. Also, incorporating whole grains which contain antioxidants, fish which have essential fatty acids, and drinking green tea, which is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, will help keep acne at bay.

You can also feed your skin through supplementation. Most people’s standard diet does not incorporate the necessary nutrition to maintain optimal skin health. So, I recommend taking supplements, like those containing Vitamin A, to help reduce blemishes, and a multivitamin to help improve overall skin health.

The Expert

Dr Murad, dermatologist and the founder of Murad skincare