Why You Might Be Facing A Resurgence Of Acne In Your 20s

Acne affects many people as they age, but it's not exclusive to teenagers. Your 20s are another time when hormones change and pimples begin to arise, and they can appear in many different forms. There are blackheads and whiteheads, which develop when your pores get clogged, but the color difference occurs if the area becomes enclosed by skin. When oil and bacteria cause obstructions deeper in the epidermis, it becomes a papule, which is the beginning of a pimple. It can progress to a pustule if pus grows inside (that's often when people become tempted to pop them for satisfaction). While these types of pimples are an eyesore to many, they aren't as harmful as acne nodules and cysts.

Cystic acne will not only affect your aesthetics — it also creates painful nodules deep in the skin. You'll want to find the root of the problem and cure it as fast as possible because they leave permanent scarring, according to The American Academy of Dermatology Association. The quicker you treat it, the less hyperpigmentation you'll be left with. And unfortunately, when adult acne appears in individuals in their 20s, it's usually these painful cysts that pop up (thanks, hormones!).

When hormones change, acne appears

Adult acne can affect anyone aged 20 to 50 years old — although people are more likely to suffer from it if they're going through hormonal changes brought on by menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause, explains Cleveland Clinic. Similar to how teenagers experience changes as they go through puberty and androgens increase, adults' bodies go through a "second puberty" where they decrease. One of these androgens — testosterone — is one of the main hormones that cause acne. Clue explains that it makes pores sticky, so they're more likely to clog from oil and keratin, creating pimples.

One of the main differences between adult acne and teenage acne is where it appears. When you're in your 20s, you'll notice pimples popping up on the lower portion of your face, jawline, and neck. Flare-ups may also appear at certain times in your menstrual cycle or if you've recently stopped using hormonal birth control because your body produces more androgens, according to WebMD.

Unfortunately, another reason why you may suffer from adult acne while other people have clear skin is if it's in your genetics — Healthline explains that it may run in your family to have changes in your hormone levels at this age. The amount of sleep you get and how much stress you have can also affect if you get adult acne.

Try over-the-counter products or go to a dermatologist

Treating adult acne doesn't always have to involve going to a dermatologist. You can start by trying out over-the-counter products. Look for topical cleansers, serums, and treatments that include ingredients like aloe vera, probiotics, and vitamin A. The Greatist recommends using tea tree oil as an alternative to benzoyl peroxide if you have very sensitive skin. Another option is to take supplements like zinc and probiotics, according to Dr. Jolene Brighten. But if none of these products are making a difference in clearing your acne, it's time to consult with a dermatologist.

Since adult acne is usually rooted in hormonal changes, doctors will typically prescribe topical treatments, oral medications, or both. They'll have you use creams with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, or hydroxy acid; retinols are also a popular option. Dermatologists may also prescribe spironolactone or recommend that you begin taking oral birth control since they block androgen hormones, as Midland Skin explains. No matter what topical product you use, you should always wash your face beforehand — this allows the active ingredients to absorb properly into your skin.