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Adult Acne: Solutions and Tips for Relief


Acne is generally thought of as a condition that teenagers deal with. The bumpy and pink dots supposedly go away as you get older; however, I recently learned that acne isn't just a teenage issue but one that 1 in 3 women in their 30s and 1 in 4 women in their 40s have. This poll, taken by, also indicated that adults with acne aren't seeking treatment from a dermatologist, but rather, they are spending between $1,000 to $3,000 a year on products to self-treat and cover up their marks. This issue is on the rise, but thankfully there is help to alleviate and cure this frustrating and embarrassing condition.

To learn more about this condition, I spoke with Beth Battaglino Cahill, executive director of and Dr. Julie C. Harper, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Beth spoke to me about the survey results where 65% of women reported that their acne makes them feel awkward because they are adults with this condition and 48% of women spend time trying different ways (e.g., makeup, hair) to cover up adult acne.


Dr. Julie C. Harper

When I spoke with Dr. Julie C. Harper I learned more about adult acne, which is different from pimples that teenagers get. Adult acne is generally characterized by deep-seated, tender, inflamed pimples and nodules, and tends to appear around the mouth, on the chin, and along the jawline. Additionally, it occurs due to new fluctuations in hormones; starting or stopping certain medications, such as birth control; family history; and stress. Although this problem is prevalent, I was shocked to learn that women with adult acne don't go to their dermatologists for treatment. Dr. Harper was equally baffled by this and wasn't sure why women aren't taking action but she wanted them to know that there are a variety of treatment options, including a new topical gel called Aczone (dapsone). She mentioned that this gel is not an antibiotic, retinoid or benzoyl peroxide, but that its active ingredient '?? dapsone '?? can help clear up acne with minimal redness and irritation.

In addition to Aczone, Dr. Harper mentioned that women need to take time with their skincare regime and not expect quick results. Some treatments may take up to 16-30 weeks, but the only way to see results is to stick with a plan. She also mentioned that women should stop self-diagnosing themselves and talk to a dermatologist. Everyone's skin is different and may react to various medications and gels in a different way. A dermatologist can prescribe the right regime to help women feel confident and radiant with acne-free skin.

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Check out some more of these interesting findings by about how acne is impacting women:

Adult acne has an impact on women.
- 65% report that their acne makes them feel awkward and they are embarrassed because they are adults
- 50% feel self-conscious because it seems like people stare at their acne
- 48% spend extra time trying different ways (e.g., wearing makeup, styling hair) to cover up or conceal their adult female acne
- 42% report that they constantly notice other people'??s skin and acne, and use those observations to draw comparisons to their own skin

Women are aware of their acne in various situations.
- 43% of women said they are most aware of their acne when they are meeting someone for the first time, and 29% reported they are most aware of it when at work
- One in three (32%) made an excuse to not go to an event due to a breakout
- 34% of women said they wonder several times a day whether people are noticing their acne, and one in four women said they wonder constantly

Many women don'??t know what triggers their acne.
- 41% of women report that they don'??t know what triggers their adult female acne, and one in four women note that their menstrual cycle is the biggest trigger

Most women are not seeing a dermatologist to treat their acne.
- More than half (57%) of women have never seen a dermatologist for their adult female acne and are attempting to treat it themselves

Women are looking for solutions for their acne.
- 29% spend 31-60 minutes per week on skin care, and one in four spend 1-2 hours on their skin care every week
- 28% of women note that they have used so many different acne products since they turned 18 that it is '??too many to count'?
- One in five (21%) of respondents estimate they have spent $1,000 to $3,000 on acne treatments and coping products, such as cover up, since they turned 18

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