You’ve passed your teens, which means breakouts are no a regular occurrence… right? Wrong. You can have acne even when you’re well into your thirties. Commonly known as adult acne, these pimples typically appear on your cheeks, chin and jawline. The good news? Adult acne can be treated with these tips from Dr Mark Tang, Senior Consultant Dermatologist at The Skin Specialists & Laser Clinic.
Get it right
The first step to improving your skin condition is getting the right diagnosis. “Persistent adult acne can mimic many different similar conditions like rosacea, bacterial folliculitis, fungal folliculitis and even contact allergy,” says Dr Mark. Identifying the real cause for the breakout is the first step to treating your acne. If topical treatments don’t work, it’s time to see a dermatologist.
Check your chest and back
Your face isn’t the only area susceptible to acne. You can break out on your back and chest as well. Dr Mark says, “Acne on the back and chest can leave more stubborn scars and stains, compared to the face.” This is why it’s best to seek treatment for these areas early.
Track your menstrual cycle
Aunt Flo’s arrival is almost always heralded by her friend, the Pimple. Adult acne tends to be hormonal and having a pre-menstrual flare is painfully common. “However, if your menses are becoming more irregular, it may be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is another important cause of hormonal acne,” cautions Dr Mark. (See also: To skip or not? 5 ways to manage your period during your wedding)
Look at where you break out
You can identify the cause of a pimple by tracking where you break out most of the time. Hormonal acne tends to have a U-shaped distribution on the face (jawline, chin and outer sides of the cheeks), while T-zone acne (central face, nose, and forehead) usually indicates adolescent acne. After washing your face, take a look in the mirror to check where your acne congregates.
Watch what you eat
The fatal link between a high sugar diet and acne is, unfortunately, true,” explains Dr Mark. Try cutting out high glycemic index foods – think refined sugars and everything nice – and switch out to healthy, low GI foods.
Don’t layer on too many products
You might think layering zit-busting products can help treat acne fast, but a gentle approach is far more beneficial. “Salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids and even benzoyl peroxide work by unclogging pores and exfoliating the skin. There’s no need to duplicate products, especially since the risk of skin irritation will be higher. Sometimes, less is more,” says Dr Mark.
Don’t be afraid to use concealer
The Max Factor Face Finity 3-in-1 Foundation is a primer, concealer and foundation formulated into one product, and in non-comedogenic. $29.90, available in 10 shades at selected Watsons stores and online.
While clear skin that doesn’t always need foundation is the ultimate goal, using a concealer or foundation when you’ve broken out can help hide the breakout. But Dr Mark cautions, “Just as long as the acne is being correctly treated and the product is suitable and appropriate. Look for products labelled non-comedogenic that won’t clog pores further.
This is easier said than done. It’s hard to resist the temptation, especially when a pimple is so big and painful that you feel it when you talk and see it when you look down. In such instances, Dr Mark suggests seeing a dermatologist. Hands off – it’ll heal faster that way. (Here are 9 major skincare mistakes brides are making.)
Seek professional help
Acne that is red and inflamed has a risk of leaving scars and stains, which can be difficult to treat, and sometimes permanent. If over-the-counter products and facials are just not cutting it, seek medical help and get prescription medications that will save you a lot of heartaches later.
A version of this article was originally published on Cleo Singapore.