ACNE, spots, pimples, zits, black heads,
These terms usually bring to mind spotty, greasy teenagers who have a voice breaking or just trying on their first training bra … you don’t usually think of a 20-something (somewhat) professional , or dare I say it corporate (why not, you don’t know my CV) woman.
Well you should! Shame on you.
Adult acne is a serious condition, which is seriously taking over the world.
Well maybe not the world but I would call it an epidemic … well I can because this is my blog post.
While at school I was one of the lucky ones who would occasionally get a spot here and there but nothing major. I had friends who really suffered from pizza face syndrome as we called it.
But as we all went on to finish school and head off in our directions; the amount of Clearasil seemed to drop off the shopping lists.
That was until I hit 23. Now most people don’t think of 23 as a substantial year. I mean it’s not 21 or 30, or even 40.
It’s a really nothing year when it comes to milestone years. But for me it was the year of hell. I started to get really bad acne and my skin started to look I was a star in one of those movies which has horrible flash back scenes complete with horrible metal braces, puffy shirts and scrunchies.
And it’s got worse from there as I’ve started to approach my 30s. Over the past seven years I’ve spent hundreds (and then more hundreds) on ointments, lotions, treatments, appointments with skin specialists, facials (and not those soothing types with the background Enya music playing), microdermabrasions, chemical peels, tablets – you name it, I have tried it.
I even waited for three months for a meeting with a dermatologist who spent the 20 minute appointment , where he walked around the chair studying my face and speaking into his Dictaphone about the “client” rather than actual talk to me. And then when I dared to ask him questions he said “ok take these ointments and come back in six months now that’s $250”. Did I mention the said ointments than cost me $80 per piece and of course I must have three of them – as part of a three part step.
And then on the other side of the coin, I have also spent a ridiculous amount of money on make-up, which let the skin breathe (I mean really how much breathing do they do to do – have you ever seen skin die of lack of oxygen?) but didn’t cope too much with my natural oil (touchy little things those oil ducts) or even cover everything like I’m a drag queen going out for a night in the Valley.
Our bathroom cabinet is covered in all the failed attempts. I could have seriously bought a new face if I combined all the money spent on every new ointment and treatment that hits the market.
Once when travelling around the Philippines for a work trip, I was so desperate that I listened to an old woman who told me to rub the skins of paw paw on my face.
Wasn’t a pretty sight as I sat in the worst humidity on a bustling street of regional Philippines with a woman who couldn’t speak a word of English and me with paw paw caked on to my skin.
Needless to say, apart from attracting a lot of flies and dogs for the next two days, it didn’t fix the problem.
Then the world changed (insert a lightning bolt here, a light bulb being turned on, a cloud moving and showing God’s face – any cliché you can think of) and I found a paramedical skin therapist Melissa Ling (at Cozimedics), who knew what she was talking about, mainly because she was my age and had been through the same thing. She didn’t have the nerve to look at me and say “it’s just hormonal spots, they will clear up, or maybe lets change your contraception pill for the million time”.
She actually looked at me and said, “this sucks – let’s do a combination of things”.
The first thing that came out was that adult acne is not so much pimples, they are often cystic, which means they form lumps under the skin. These cystic pimples can scar badly and the worst thing (I found out for me) was to reach for the soap as it only removes surface oil. And that I shouldn’t use a moisturiser as my skin is oily.
After discussing this with Mel (or my Skin God a I now call her), it came out that there are many contributing factors to the development of adult acne, including build-up of dead skin cells on surface of the skin, hormones, bacteria, skin care, makeup, environment, genetic predisposition as well as various prescription medications and medical conditions. And it turns out I was about 99% of these.
Typical, if I’m going to do anything I’ve got to do it 99%.
But that’s ok because Mel made me feel better because she said adult acne can affect 25% of all adult men and 50% of all adult women at some time in their adult life.
“Regardless of when someone’s struggles with acne it can be difficult to cope and can cause depression and social anxiety in an adult the same way it can in a teen,” she said.
So what did we do to make said pizza-face more normal?
Following a medical assessment, it turned out that I had acne but I also had very infected pores, which needed to be fixed straight away or the acne would never be fixed due to damaged pores.
To fix the infection and damaged pores I was giving a dose of antibiotics and a topical cream to zap that area. For long term care, I then embarked on a skin care regimen for home.
This was supported by a series of laser/light based treatments, micro/skin peels and enzyme therapy.
LASER/LIGHT BASED TREATMENT/PDT: Light based therapies using medical grade technology which targets redness, bacteria, pore size and can also assist with scarring. The laser genesis combined with enzyme therapy was used on me. This is a new development in the treatment of acne is also the use of PDT to reduce infection and breakouts. Think long term!
MICRO/SKIN PEELS: helps to reduce dead skin build up, clogging pores and brighten up the skin tone and texture.
ENZYME THERAPY: One of the most advanced skin care treatments available and is great at restoring the skin to function optimally. Enzymes are nature’s biological catalyst to work with the skin rather than merely acting on it. Enzymes promote a plasmatic effect in the skin, offering oxygen therapy, pulling away toxins and impurities, stimulating an immediate response to the dermal level, enabling optimal skin functioning, the key to youthful, healthy skin. I have been getting these treatments monthly are fantastic. I have found they also encourage the skin to heal quicker if you still get cystic bumps.
After three months of these combined treatments, my skin is really starting to show a difference. I am wearing less coverage and also feeling more confident that the bumps under my face aren’t showing up under the make-up.
I can’t say it’s completely gone but it has made a vast change to my skin and I can see the scarring start (slowly) to heal.
While this worked for me (enter disclaimer here), these types of treatments are individually customised and really needs to be determined on individual cases.
If like me you are starting to get pizza face syndrome and scarring in your 20s, 30s or 40s, then don’t stop trying. There are answers. You just need to ask the right questions which suit your situation.
My tips from a half-way reformed pizza face sufferer:
- See a skin specialist that works for you.
- See a good GP and try and combine that with your skin treatment.
- Once you find a treatment that works, don’t stop it.
- Fix the deeper problem, if you keep getting acne in one area then it could be infected area that needs stronger healing.
- Use the right make up.
- Have a proper home care treatment – which suits your treatments.
- Don’t put paw paw flesh on your face on a street in Philippine. It will cake and smell horrible.
- Don’t buy every new item on the shelf that has anti-acne on it, save the money and see a good specialist.
- Remember adult acne is not something to be ashamed of. It’s not your fault.
Sarah Morgan always wanted to be a writer. Before finishing high school, she was already working as a journalist for the local newspaper as a junior correspondent. After graduating from uni, she gained work on a number of regional newspapers and magazines. In 2002 she launched Core Communications Group to provide professionally written copy, which is sharp, effective, interesting and more importantly gets to the core of the issue.