Adult acne expert opinion. Dr Malvina Cunningham, Nuffield Health’s Consultant Dermatologist.
Acne is the medical term for spots, which can take a number of different forms including blackheads, whiteheads or bumps underneath the skin, red spots and deeper, painful spots that don’t come to the surface which are called nodules or cysts.
I often hear the same recurring themes from my patients, worrying that their acne is caused by something they are doing wrong: “I have cut out dairy and sugar, but I am still breaking out” or ‘‘I have changed all my moisturisers and make up, but my skin hasn’t improved’’ or “What am I doing wrong? I have tried everything, and nothing has worked”.
Acne can have several triggers such as stress, hormones and lifestyle, but ultimately it is not due to anything that you are doing wrong. Acne is a medical condition that is caused by a series of complex processes including genetics, which result in the overproduction of oils and dead skin cells that cause the blockage of pores and inflammation.
This doesn’t however mean you have to live with it, or any emotional burden you feel having tried ‘everything’ and have not achieved the desired results.
Acne is an extremely common medical condition in adolescence, but we are seeing more and more adults in clinic. Adult acne is defined as acne in women and men over the age of 25 years and can either be due to persistent breakouts that haven’t gone away since adolescence, new onset acne that presents for the first time in adulthood or recurrent acne that cleared in adolescence but then returned in adulthood.
There is no question that medical treatments form the basis of acne management, but in my experience adult acne needs a gentler and more personalised approach compared to adolescent acne. During consultations I will assess your skin in detail looking at the type of acne you have, your skin and your skin needs, your current skincare practice and lifestyle. My management of adult acne consists of a personalised approach that combines evidence-based medication in conjunction with supportive, customised skin care and lifestyle advice that will help you achieve healthy, glowing skin.