How to deal with adult breakouts and blemishes

How to deal with adult breakouts and blemishes
How to deal with adult breakouts and blemishes

Seriously, why does it seem like I get more zits now than I did when I was hitting puberty? I have no pending proms and I got my braces off in 1988, yet I honestly get a couple of zits a month and what’s worse they are small but leave scars. My friends and I like to tease each other when we notice an eruption by saying things like, “OMG, is that from being stressed about Billy asking you to go to third base?” or “Nice pimple, that one would need its own oxygen mask on a plane.”

That said, it’s no laughing matter when you’re the one with the blemish (that’s what old people over 40, like me, call them) and so we will fix this not funny issue by answering these questions:

Why the heck am i getting zits when i haven’t been to a homecoming dance in over a decade?
Apparently, breakouts are a result of an imbalance in hormones which is common during PMS, pregnancy, peri-menopause, and menopause. Awesome. Also, certain medications like corticosteroids and cosmetics that we need now more than ever, can clog pores. Just great. And even moderate stress can trigger cortisol production which causes breakouts. Perfect because as a Mom I’m rarely stressed! Lastly diets high in simple carbs and sugary foods raise insulin levels which boost hormones which causes eruptions. Lucky us.

Do I treat pimples the way a teenager would and then ask to be excused in class?
Nope, because adult acne is different than the oily breakouts that are common in teens. It typically appears on the jawline as opposed to the t-zone also adult skin tends to be drier and more sensitive, so it needs to be treated differently.

Oral contraceptives can help clear up skin with analog hormones or antibiotics

Thanks for reminding me that I’m not a kid anymore - now what?
Sadly there’s no perfect way to treat adult breakouts, but there are some tricks and tips worth trying. As we age, our skin gets thinner and becomes irritated more easily, so for starters, use gentle cleansers - like Cetaphil. Avoid abrasive scrubs or using a rough washcloth to clean your face. Use a soft face brush or your hands with warm (not hot) water and use alternatives methods to slough off dead skin. Retinols, which you should be using anyway, will do the trick. Also look for products with salicylic and glycolic acids which will help exfoliate and speed up regeneration. And a good charcoal mask to clean out pores can be a nice addition.

Why Don’t My Pimples Fade Like The Memories of My Youth?
So, I’ve noticed that the blemishes I get now don’t go away. They leave a lasting red pigment that lingers and forms a hazy game of connect the dots. Mine is a sailboat when you put them together, but I digress... The best way to avoid this scarring is to treat spots ASAP using products with the acids mentioned above or antioxidants like vitamin A, C and E to enhance cell turnover. You can spot treat with prescription medications (you’re a big girl now, skip the drug store and go get one from your doctor). These are topical antibiotics that fight bacteria in the skin like Clindamycin and Epiduo.

Are There Big Guns That I Can Bring Out For Pimples?
Yes, there are.

  • If discoloration lasts for more than 6 months you may want to consider IPL treatments to target the scars and reduce their intensity or chemical peels to get deeper into the dermis.
  • If you’re having a lot of breakouts there is blue light therapy, which kills the bacteria that causes acne.
  • If you have a painful or persistent papule (a deep pimple that will turn to a white head over time) and you have an event coming up or you know you won’t be able to let it run its course, or you’re prone to scars and discoloration -- you could actually get a cortisone injection from your plastic surgeon or dermatologist. Though, more than you may want to spend on a zit, the healing time will be sped up drastically and within 72hrs there could be little to no proof it was ever there.

Well, good luck out there and I hope to see you at the next slumber party. I’ll be the one in the charcoal mask.

About the Author

Jenny Isenman AKA “Jenny From the Blog” a pop culture obsessed, card carrying Gen Xer, and the humorist behind the award winning site, The Suburban Jenny does on air segments as a Generation X, Parenting, and Lifestyle expert for NBC, CBS, FOX, Huff Po Live, and hosted the Jenny Isenman Show for CafeMom. Jenny claims that reading her work will make you smarter, tanner and reduces cellulite... at the very least it’ll keep you literate.