It’s no secret that the vast majority of information and advice about acne is geared largely toward two audiences: younger people and women. While the majority of people seeking medical care for acne are young people, acne persists well into adulthood for many American adults. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, occurrences of adult male acne may be increasing.
For adults who live with acne, its effects can be more than cosmetic. Acne may be a source of shame and embarrassment. It hurts your confidence when you’re 17, so why wouldn’t it hurt your confidence when you’re 35, 40 or even 60? Acne can also be extremely painful, especially in its cystic variations, which often afflict adults.
While it may be true that women are more likely to suffer from adulthood acne than men, men don’t benefit from the same culture of cosmetics and skin hygiene for women. A man may reach adulthood never having had a conversation with a medical provider about how to take care of his skin. Men living with acne may not even quite understand how they can still have acne after puberty.
It’s a good time to dispel the misconceptions and better understand your own skin health. Here’s everything you should know about male adult acne.
The Real Causes of Acne
Acne is caused by a number of factors, none of which include sugar, chocolate, or any other edible product. It’s also not caused by a lack of skin hygiene. Even the most fastidious facial groomers may still suffer from breakouts.
Acne is caused, primarily, by the following:
Yes, that’s it. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, these are the top culprits. Oil and bacteria alike can clog your skin’s pores, which can result in the further build-up of other skin debris, such as dead skin cells and a sebaceous secretion called sebum. Clogged pores are susceptible to further clogging, local infections, and inflammation. The latter is what gives acne-afflicted skin its red, irritated appearance.
Why People Associate Acne with Puberty
Acne most likely intensifies at pubescent age because puberty is accompanied by the production of hormones called androgens. They are a class of hormones that primarily influences the development of the male reproductive system. Androgens also play a role in female pubescence, so calling them “male hormones” is a bit of a misnomer.
In addition to stimulating the growth of primary and secondary sex characteristics, androgens stimulate your sebaceous glands, which are in your skin, to produce more oil. Sebaceous glands are connected to hair follicles, which also get hyper-stimulated during pubescence. Puberty is, in short, a hormonal storm that makes a perfect breeding ground for acne.
While the surge of hormones attenuates after puberty, those hormones remain in your body throughout your life. Their levels fluctuate in both men and women as we get older. Adult acne sufferers may just have, among other things, a natural hormonal cocktail that predisposes them to pesky skin blemishes.
Things You Can Do for Your Adult Male Acne
There are two major pathways toward treating and even alleviating adult acne. They are home treatments, which tend to be topical, and doctor-prescribed treatments, which may be topical or internal. The decision to pursue medical aid for adult acne is a personal one.
If you are suffering with adult acne, whether it is physically painful or a serious blow to your confidence, seek medical treatment from a qualified doctor. However, if you want to tackle your acne at home, here are a few things you can start doing today:
Take It Easy on Your Face
If your skin is oily or flaky, it can be tempting to jump in the shower and scrub your skin hard with a washcloth or other abrasive material. But you should resist this urge. Over-scrubbing can irritate your skin and cause micro-abrasions that are like premium condos to harmful bacteria on your skin.
The same is true for facial cleansers that have micro-beads or other abrasives. When using a washcloth on your face, make sure you’ve added enough facial cleanser to lubricate your skin and cleanse your skin gently to remove surface debris.
Try a Combination of Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide
Salicylic acid can help dry up some of the excess oil on your face, while benzoyl peroxide functions as a mild antibacterial. Experiment with topical products that have one or both of these ingredients. Note which types of products help your skin more. Doing so will help you better understand whether your acne is primarily due to oil, bacteria, or a combination of both.
Use a Facial Moisturizer
In the year 2019, many cosmetic marketers have realized that men have skin, too. It’s relatively easy to find moisturizing products, especially for guys. However, products tailored toward women will do the exact same work.
If your face is already oily, using a moisturizer might be the last thing you want to try. However, your skin may be over-producing oil because it’s chronically dry. Giving it a little moisture may help ease oil production and give your skin a chance to heal.
Change Your Shaving Routine
Many men get their worst breakouts, not just in their oily T-zone, but also anywhere on their face where they shave regularly. Shaving can not only irritate skin follicles and stimulate the production of more oil but also may create small tears in your skin that bacteria can populate. Preventing razor burn could also be instrumental in helping you battle back your adult male acne.
Cut the Stress
Remember androgens, the hormones that activate during puberty? They’re also released by your adrenal gland, which kicks into overdrive when you’re feeling stressed out. High levels of stress, therefore, may be contributing to your acne. Start incorporating de-stressing strategies into your daily routine, like exercise, journaling, calling a friend or even yoga.
Remember, you’re not the only one suffering from adult male acne. You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last. Your teenage self survived acne, and your grown self will, too.