You may have more in common with a teenager than you realize. Sandy Winter, a 43 year old marketing executive, thought her acne days were well behind her. Then just about the time she started noticing the signs of perimenopause: erratic periods, sudden mood swings and bloating, she was surprised by the sudden appearance of acne. “The other symptoms of perimenopause were bad enough, but then to have acne on top of it all, really was too much.” And for many women like Sandy, who may already be feeling fragile about their changing appearance, acne can be the defining symptom that has a major impact on their self confidence. “ I found that I was avoiding going out when I had a particularly bad breakout. I just wanted to hide and wait out the storm”.
It turns out that Sandy is not alone. Acne after puberty affects more than 70% of adults between the ages of 20-70 and it strikes women more often than men. Even women who managed to avoid breakouts as teenagers, suddenly find they have a face full of acne.
In women, up to 60% of acne breakouts are hormone based, identified by the location of the blemishes, which typically occur on the lower face.
Adult acne occurs for much the same reason that acne occurs during any other life stage. The skin contains millions of sebaceous glands. These glands produce oil, called sebum. Skin cells are constantly regenerated. Old ones die, are sloughed off and quickly replaced. When there is a surge of male-type androgen hormones such as testosterone and DHEA, the sebaceous glands become sensitive and start producing more sebum than necessary, which explains why teenage boys typically experience more severe acne than teenage girls.
If you suffer from hormonally-based acne, you may benefit from a natural hormone balancing regime. Some doctors advise women suffering from hormonal based acne to try the birth control pill. Although both estrogen and progesterone are effective against acne, the pill comes with some well known side effects and risks. For many women these risks are too high and they seek more natural ways to balance their hormones and control their acne.
Nature’s Pharmacy may offer relief from hormonal imbalance. Chastetree berry has been used for hundreds of years for its hormone- balancing properties. Other botanicals can play a supportive role such as wild yam, red raspberry and scullcap, and milk thistle, in particular, can play a role in balancing hormones by supporting liver health. The liver is the key organ in the body that metabolizes or breaks down hormones. Milk thistle contains a range of valuable compounds including antioxidants that can help protect cells from free radical damage.
Regardless of whether acne is hormone based or not, there are some simple rules to live by that can go a long way to keeping acne at bay.
Since mature skin is typically drier than young skin, women suffering from adult acnemayfindtopicalacnemedications more irritating. It is essential that women with adult acne moisturizer daily using products designed for sensitive skin to reduce the formation of new acne lesions and to minimize skin irritation. Also many topical acne medications increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, so daily sun protection is essential.
Simple Ways to Minimize Acne
• Wash your face with a mild cleanser twice daily using warm, not hot, water.
• Be careful not to scrub your face, as this may cause more irritation.
• Clean your bed sheets, especially your pillowcase, weekly with mild, chemical-free detergent.
• Do not pick or pop pimples. This may cause secondary bacterial infections and lead to more scarring.
• Only use cosmetics, skin or hair care products, labeled non-comedogenic – meaning they do not clog pores and are less likely to cause acne.
• Keep your hands off your face. Your hands contain dirt and bacteria which is easily transferred to your face.
• Manage your stress. Although stress doesn’t cause acne it has been shown to aggravate acne which is why breakouts occur during more stressful times.
• Eat to nourish your skin. Recent studies are now suggesting that high- glycemic foods such as refined grains and processed sugars may, in fact, trigger acne breakouts. Low glycemic foods such as whole grains, lean meat, and fish may keep acne at bay because they stabilize blood sugar and prevent insulin spikes.
• Consider a hair, skin and nail supplement like femMED’s Hair, Skin & Nails to provide essential nutrients for optimal skin.
• Resist the temptation to treat acne topically without first addressing the underlying cause of breakouts – hormonal imbalance.
For those women suffering from PMS or the symptoms of perimenopause, consider a natural health product, like femMED Hormonal Balance designed to address hormonal imbalance and the undesirable symptoms that it causes.