I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with highly renowned New York City dermatologist, Dr. Diane Berson, a frequent contributor to NBC’s Today Show, The CBS Early Show and ABC World News Tonight, to name a few, on the topic of adult acne which plagues over half of women from the ages of 25 to 58, including yours truly! If you’ve ever wondered if acne is caused by what you eat, how it can be prevented, how to treat it properly and why you’ve been affected by it while others have not, you’ve come to the right place!
Candace Rose: What are the most common myths and misconceptions about adult acne?
Dr. Diane Berson: “I think the biggest myth is that people think that acne is a condition that just occurs in teens during adolescence and that everyone grows out of it and that it’s not something you can have as an adult. But in reality a lot of adults have acne.”
CR: What causes adult acne and why are some adults affected by it while others aren’t?
DB: “The causes of adult acne are essentially the same as that for adolescent acne – it usually develops first during adolescence because of the surge of hormones with puberty and most of the flares of acne that occur in adulthood are also caused by hormonal flares and hormonal fluctuations, especially in adult women. Genetics plays a role and also stress can cause acne to flare. For adult women the hormonal flares are very relevant because women have all these hormonal fluctuations every month before their period; they can break out when they go on or of the birth control pill; when they become pregnant and we certainly see a lot of acne around perimenopause and menopause but women are also chronically under stress, so the combination of hormonal fluctuations and stress can cause chronic acne flares. Skin care products can cause a little bit of acne if they’re very heavy or greasy and clog the pores and that can play a role too, but for men and women it’s mainly genetics, heredity, hormones and stress.”
CR: How about when it comes to body acne? How can it be treated and prevented?
DB: “Well, body acne can be be treated and prevented the same way as facial acne. Basically the areas one is prone to developing acne include the face, the scalp, the chest, the upper back and then the buttock and groin. It’s going to get worse in areas that get sweaty and oily and clogged when you work out, especially if you’re wearing this tight adherent workout clothing – like the tight lycra and spandex and it can’t breathe and then you sweat, so we do recommend you wearing loose cotton shorts, loose cotton shirts; basically showering soon after the workout as possible to remove all the sweat and grease and cool you down as fast as possible. For treating facial acne – the issue when you’re dealing with adults, especially adult women is that they may simultaneously have very dry or sensitive skin or sun damaged skin along with their acne, so you want to use a product line that’s going to improve their acne, dry out the pimples to prevent new acne but at the same time not irritate the skin and also maybe even help some of the signs of premature aging that a lot of women are developing such as fine lines and wrinkles; discoloration and blotchiness.”
CR: Do you have any suggestions for those with sensitive acne prone skin?
DB: “Yeah, well there’s a new line that’s targeting adult females and it’s called Olay Pro-X Clear and it’s a skin care regimen basically that’s made for women (adult women) and men can use it too. It includes a cleanser that contains salicylic acid which will help declog the pores and prevent new acne lesions from surfacing. It contains a lotion with salicylic acid and again you want to use this on the entire affected area. You don’t just spot treat acne but you use it all over to help prevent new pimples while you’re resolving the pimples that are there. But also adults with acne do need to use a moisturizer, a light moisturizer that won’t clog their pores, but a moisturizer which will keep their skin looking smooth and supple and plump, and will help reduce some of the fine lines and wrinkles. The moisturizer in the Olay Pro-X Clear line contains niacinamide which is a barrier repair product. It’s a vitamin B and it’ll actually plump up the skin, smooth out the fine lines and wrinkles and fade some of the pigmentation, so you’re using a product that can address some of the anti-aging needs as well as the acne needs of the adult female.”
CR: Do they have a product line for body acne as well or is it just facial?
DB: “You would use the same line on the other areas of the body whether it’s the chest, back or buttock. There’s also a medicated sulfur mask as part of the line and I think that would be great, certainly for areas that are large surface body areas and other areas that are hard to reach such as the buttock, chest and back, and will sort of suck up the oils, unclog the pores and also dry out any of the acne that’s there.”
CR: Gadgets such as the Clarisonic have become extremely popular for skin care, do you recommend using gadgets like that for people with acne?
DB: “Sure. Those can be very helpful and you can pick what cleanser you want whether it’s a cleanser with salicylic acid or just a simple mild cleanser. Olay actually has the similar product to the Clarisonic, it’s the advanced cleansing system and it’s same idea – you put the cleanser on it with the rotating brush. It’s very good for areas such as the face, the chest and the back where you want to remove the surface oil and debris that’s clogging the pores.”
CR: Are there any foods or supplements that can help prevent future outbreaks?
DB: “There aren’t specifically foods that will treat acne or even specific foods that will cause someone to get acne but certainly we always recommend that patients eat a well balanced healthy diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables, certainly a good amount of fish such as salmon; nuts and grains – almonds are terrific, they contain the Omega-3 fatty acids but all of these foods that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants and Omega-3’s will certainly make the skin look better because they’re good for the body and the skin is the largest organ of the body.”
CR: Are there any chemicals in makeup that people with acne should avoid?
DB: “You might want to avoid products that have too much fragrance or preservatives, especially if you have sensitive skin. You might want to use products that do contain sun protection so that you avoid further redness and discoloration of the skin when you suffer from acne.”
CR: Do you have any additional information or tips you’d like to share?
DB: “Well, I think it’s important that everyone with acne realize that there is a skin product for every skin type and that if you are an adult who is suffering from premature aging at the same time as acne, there is a product line that’s specifically targeted for you. It’s a great idea to use a moisturizer and not worry that it’s going to cause acne flare. Of course use daily sun protection to prevent further aging of the skin and skin cancer. If you have any other questions about acne or skin care, there are a lot of great websites you can go to, The American Academy of Dermatology has a website: AADD.org and the Acne and Rosacea Society has a website: AcneandRosacea.org.”
CR: “Where can we go for more information?
DB: “You can go for more information to Olay.com which will talk about acne and adult acne, and some of the ingredients in their skin care line which will help treat and prevent acne and also treat some of the signs of premature aging of the skin.”