Sudden Onset of Bad Acne

Stress can trigger a sudden onset of bad acne.

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If you’re suffering from a sudden onset of bad acne, chances are you’re well past your teens and thought you were free and clear of this most common skin condition. But the sad news is that acne can strike at any age, with more than 50 percent of people over 25 suffering breakouts, according to the authors of “The Acne Cure.” Don’t despair; there’s a full arsenal of acne remedies out there to help you control it.

Adult Acne

While acne in our teens tends to develop more gradually, late-onset acne appears suddenly in the adult years. Late-onset acne is stubborn and usually takes the form of deep-seated, inflamed pimples and nodules. Women are more likely to suffer from adult acne, which is most prevalent along the jawline, around the mouth and chin, but can also pop up on the chest and back.

Causes and Triggers

You can blame acne at any age on inflammation, excess skin oil, accumulation of dead skin cells and bacteria called Proprionibacterium. However, adult acne triggers — or conditions that can lead to these causes — include stress, genetics, and medications such as birth control pills, corticosteroids or anticonvulsants. Fluctuating hormones are also culprits, leading to sudden-onset acne in women sometimes being referred to as "hormonal acne."

What You Can Do

Although a sudden, bad case of acne can be resistant to treatment, it’s not indestructible. To minimize frustration and increase your chances of successfully fighting it, don’t rely on treatments that are commonly prescribed for teen-onset acne. Instead, consult a dermatologist and discuss prescription medications such as retinoid creams, topical or oral antibiotics and isotretinoin, the only known cure for acne. Also, if raging hormones are to blame — which may be the case if you’re going through menopause — speak to your family doctor about natural and pharmaceutical ways to control those hormones.

A Word of Warning

Chances are that your sudden case of acne isn’t affecting more than your skin — and maybe your ego. But for some women, acne can also signal an underlying medical condition such as an adrenal gland disorder or polycystic ovarian syndrome. If your acne blemishes are accompanied by symptoms such as facial hair, irregular periods, or thinning hair and balding, dash to your doctor for a diagnosis. Acne will only clear up once you tackle any underlying health problem.

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