We are always trying to fight the passage of time. We may fear the signs of aging and cling to our youth, but the only thing from our younger years that seems to persist is … acne. Doesn’t our skin know that’s not what we were thinking when we wanted to look 17 again?
However, our skin changes as we age. In fact, it’s even been said that our bodies’ cells are completely transformed every 7-10 years, making us each individually, cellularly, a completely different person every decade or so. That being said, our skin goes through major developments and losses, and even our breakouts aren’t necessarily the same as they were in our younger years.
Eric Lovato, PA-C, of the Dermatology and Laser Centre of Studio City, is someone we know and trust here at Poosh. In fact, both Kourt and Sarah Howard swear by him. He sees patients of all ages who come in with flare-ups, many of them confused about what brought on latent adult acne, and others unsure about how to treat it.
Unfortunately, because these breakouts are so different than when we were younger, they can’t be treated the same. We can’t chalk them up to bacteria and oily skin. More often than not, it’s due to hormones, poor nutrition, or a sensitive skin reaction, and using active acne treatment products will only exacerbate the issue. Here are some types of non-acne breakouts we tend to suffer as we age.
Psoriasis is actually an immunity issue. It occurs when one’s immune system produces skin cells way quicker than it should, and pushes them to the surface faster than our bodies are capable of shedding the dead ones … think in a few days as opposed to the typical month that it takes.
When we are unable to shed skin cells quickly enough and continue producing new ones, we get a sort of pile-up. In some cases, it may look bumpy, like a breakout, but typically this is red, angry, inflamed, and scaly-looking skin. The instinct may be to exfoliate a ton (to help shed those dead skin cells) and use highly active products, but this only inflames the issue. Lovato advises seeing a dermatologist or dermatology PA for proper diagnosis and prescription for topical and oral anti-inflammatory medications.
This common skin condition can appear as little red bumps (don’t pick or pop!) and visible capillaries and veins on the face. It usually comes and goes in flare-ups, but is also aggravated by heavy or active products.
Board Certified Dermatologist, Gene Rubinstein, M.D., further explains that it’s important to see a dermatologist if acne is persistent and doesn’t improve with typical medications like retinoids and antibiotics. Other conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, which can show up on the face as red scaly spots, can be irritated by such acne medications. More uncommon disorders like lupus are unfortunately also mistaken for acne. These conditions can be diagnosed at a dermatologist’s office by biopsy and blood tests.
PD is a common affliction, especially as we age and when we try new skincare and beauty products. According to Lovato, it is characterized by red bumps on the lower face and clustering around the mouth (the meaning of perioral), and yet it differs from acne.
“These bumps are tender and can be itchy,” Lovato shares. “Patients often complain of burning or sensitive skin. The term ‘adult acne’ is a misnomer, as perioral dermatitis is a type of rosacea and should be treated accordingly. It is most common in adult women, and it’s not contagious.” PD is made much worse by layering heavy creams, ointments, and active acne treatments even though it takes on the appearance of either dry skin or breakouts. It’s best to ask a professional how to treat the area instead of experimenting with overkill at home.
Eric Lovato has these tips for sufferers of perioral dermatitis:
“Avoid: cortisone creams (these can give temporary relief, but cause breakouts to worsen), chemical sunscreen, occlusive cosmetics, scrubs, and perfumed face washes. Instead, use physical sunblock and non-soap fragrance-free cleansers.
Treatment: see a dermatologist or dermatology PA for proper diagnosis and prescription for topical and oral anti-inflammatory medications.
Caution: traditional acne treatments often cause more irritation.”
So before picking, prodding, and attempting to DIY, if a persistent breakout is driving you mad, save yourself some time, pain, and suffering and just see a professional first. It’s always worth it to explore deeper, since aging skin is an unpredictable beast.
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