Adult Acne in Men – Male Acne Causes and Treatments

Acne, or medically termed as acne vulgaris is a very common skin disease among women and men, both teenagers and even adults. This skin condition in part involves the oil glands and the hair follicles. Acne can put a great deal of impact to one’s life both physically and emotionally as it can leave permanent scars, affecting one’s emotional state specially one’s confidence and self-esteem during the course of acne and even after it leaves some unpleasant lifelong scars extending to the adult years. Adult acne in men is quite common too, not just in teenage boys. It can be longer lasting and more severe compared to those in women. Some teenage boys overcome their acne as soon as they become adults, but this is not always the case. It is quite hard to determine the exact cause of adult acne in men; stress, diet, and not enough sleep has been considered but no exact cause has been established. Fortunately, adult acne in men may not be often as severe as the acne experienced by teenage boys.  It has been thought that 25% to 40% acne cases are adult acne in men.

In general, acne is believed to be caused by an excessive production of the oily substance medically termed as sebum. The millions of follicles present in the human skin produce sebum, which is actually the natural oil of the skin. But if overproduction of sebum occurs, the sebum may cause to block or clog the follicles or the pores. The blockage can either turn into the different types of acne; whiteheads, blackheads, nodules, pustules or cysts. As the pores are clogged by the sebum, follicle walls may stretch. The clog can even attract bacteria, making it potential for bacterial growth. If the follicle walls rupture, it is normal for the body’s immune system to respond and send cells to attack the bacteria and other foreign matter. This immune system’s reaction results in the red and inflamed reaction of the skin and a pus-filled reaction. There are a number of factors thought to be the cause of adult acne in men.

Acne-causing Factors in Men

Hormones are one factor causing adult acne in men. Both an imbalance of hormones and overproduction of hormones are believed to be causing adult acne in men. A potent androgen hormone called testosterone is responsible for the increase in the production of oil, starting during the adolescent years of men. As mentioned earlier, with the increase in production of oil, caused by hormones, it can clog the pores, resulting in adult acne in men. The bacteria that cause acne are also normally present in everyone’s skin. But if there is an overproduction of oil, it becomes a perfect environment for the bacteria to grow and multiply.

Genetic predisposition is also considered as the major factor in adult acne in men. If parents have experienced acne, it is likely that their offspring will experience it as well. Genetic factor is thought to be a more probable cause compared to diet and external factors

Diet is a controversial factor thought to be causing adolescent and adult acne in men and women. While it has been raised by experts for years, and countered by many, new researches have indicated that diet may really do play a role in causing acne.

External factors include medications, stress, friction, and sun exposure. There are medications, including androgen drugs and barbiturates for instance are known to cause acne. Studies have also revealed that long duration of stress can cause an imbalance in hormones. Too much friction can irritate the skin further leading to adult acne in men, and studies also suggest that some individuals develop acne after weeks of sunbathing.

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, adult acne in men or even in women can not be cured. Treatment options are available only to manage and treat the current acne condition. In treating adult acne in men, the initial step is to have a clean face even though acne is not caused by dirt. This step involves keeping the follicles open by using skin cleansers that will remove dead skin cells. Gentle scrubbing with mild cleansers should be done so as not to irritate the skin, which will make the acne worse.

Mild to moderate cases of adult acne in men can also be treated with over-the-counter medications. These over-the-counter acne medications may contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, azelaic acid and others. The use of over-the-counter acne medications may be continued or up to about six weeks to give the medication ample time to work. But if no positive changes occur after about six weeks, one may consider switching to other treatment options. Prescriptions medications are also treatment options for adult acne in men. These medications may be antibiotics or medications containing retinoic acid or isotretinoin. Isotretinoin is the medication of choice in effectively treating severe cases of adult acne in men. Laser and light therapy has had some developments in treating mild to moderate inflammatory acne although further evaluation is needed. This therapy mainly targets the scarring after adult acne in men. Treatment options will vary per individual; finding the treatment that will actually work on the specific case of adult acne in men will take time. Each treatment option will vary in dose, duration and proper use per patient, depending on the severity of adult acne in men.

It is also recommended that men with acne should avoid picking or squeezing the acne to prevent the condition from becoming worse and to avoid scarring as much as possible. For treatments that cause skin to dry, an oil-free moisturizer may be used. It is best to seek the advice of a skin specialist and strictly follow the instructions of treatment medications to get the optimum benefits in treating adult acne in men. It’s good to remember that each treatment option will actually take some time to work before an improvement is seen. One should never be discouraged; it helps to be patient.

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