Many of life’s milestones are attached to a timeline. You always remember how old you were when you had your first date, started your first job or bought your first car. You might also be eagerly anticipating that age when your acne will go away. But at what age should you expect that to happen?
It’s often difficult to pinpoint a precise timeline for anything health-related, in particular for physical changes that are associated with puberty, growth and aging. Your body and genetic makeup has it’s own unique timetable for all these processes. It’s important to point out that we don’t necessarily “outgrow” acne, but the nature and type of acne will change for most people over time.
Below, we’ve provided a quick overview of the different factors to consider with adolescent acne, the impact it has at different stages and what to expect over its lifecycle.
What Causes Teenage Acne?
Acne is seemingly a rite of passage for teenagers. An estimated 80-85 percent of teens experience acne with breakouts beginning around the age of 11 for females. With the onset of puberty coming later for males, boys will usually start seeing breakouts at about age 13.
Many people still believe that acne is simply a matter of hygiene.The real culprit, for teens in particular, is the dramatic fluctuation in hormone levels, which is why breakouts are so common during adolescence. Increases in testosterone trigger excessive secretion of oil in the skin’s sebaceous glands. Dead skin cells and bacteria become trapped in oil-clogged pores, resulting in blemishes. Adult acne, on the other hand, is the result of pore clogging from slower skin turnover that occurs along with sweating, excess oil production, and varying hormonal changes.
Will I Just Outgrow My Acne?
As we age, our oil glands produce less sebum and oil, leaving us with less chance of more severe acne problems. But while most teenage acne will simply run its course and resolve itself naturally over time, approximately one-third of teen acne cases linger and become chronic.
Adult acne is fairly common amongst those who’ve suffered from adolescent acne, requiring a regimented daily treatment that doesn’t over-dry. Proper use of topical treatments such as toners, moisturizers and anti-bacterial ingredients like salicylic acid and glycolic acid are essential to help control breakouts and prevent scarring.
Since acne develops later in males, it usually tends to last longer as well. Women are more likely to experience acne in their 20s and beyond, even if they didn’t suffer from acne problems as a teenager due to hormonal fluctuations caused by menstruation and pregnancy.
Women are also affected by the use of makeup, which can contribute to clogged pores. Non-comedogenic cosmetics are specially formulated to eliminate ingredients that clog pores that result in breakouts. Anabolic steroid use is known to cause acne in men. Approximately one-third of men who use steroids to enhance athletic performance develop acne, with half of those cases involving a severe form known as cystic acne, which goes more deeply into the skin.
If you’re a young adult dealing with acne, you’re not alone. A dermatologist can help you formulate an effective treatment plan to maintain a clear complexion.