Acne and Aging Skin

Okay, so you’re a grown up and you outgrew your acne years ago, but all of a sudden you are starting to see acne blemishes again. You’re too old for this! You may even have grandkids. What is going on?

If you have read the other articles on this site, you already know about the causes of acne, but in case you dipped in here first, we’ll give a quick overview.

Acne is an inherited disorder of the sebaceous follicles (pores) in which they shed too many dead skin cells at a time, creating tiny plugs that grow larger as they work their way toward the surface. If you have the inherited tendency for inflammation, you get pustules and papules and sometimes cysts. If you don’t, you get blackheads and whiteheads.

During puberty, when our hormones are raging, our androgenic hormones act on the sebaceous (oil) glands causing them to produce a lot of oil. Androgenic hormones are the male hormones—testosterone is one. But girls produce them too, just not as much. Oil added into the mix of dead skin cells makes them stickier and more likely to clog up the pores. The extra oil backs up behind the plug, making a breeding ground for the naturally occurring p. acnes bacteria in our pores and they run wild.

The effect of androgens on the sebaceous glands is why boys usually get worse acne than girls do. The estrogenic hormones have a mitigating effect on oil production, so sometimes birth control pills that are high in estrogen will be prescribed for acne.

If you had acne as a teenager, but outgrew it, you outgrew your production of oil, but not your tendency to shed extra skin cells. The skin does slow down the production and sloughing of skin cells as we age, but those of us with acne tendencies still shed more than our non-acneic counterparts.

You may have noticed in your twenties and thirties that you would get breakouts around the time of your period. It is those hormones again. Your body produces a lot of estrogen leading up to your period as it builds the lining of your uterus and prepares an egg for release from the ovary, but then the estrogen level drops off if the egg is not fertilized, causing the lining to shed and you get your period. Without the protection of the high estrogen levels, a woman’s androgens can cause extra oil production, leading to the blemishes you were getting around your period.

As you go through perimenopause and menopause, the estrogenic protection is lost for longer periods of time, until finally it is lost permanently. In some women who had acne when they were young, this can lead to a recurrence.

But don’t worry. The Acne Treatment Center understands. We have treatments and home care that will work for more mature skin, and, many of our treatments are wonderful at reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is a win-win situation. Bye-bye blemishes, and so long wrinkles! Give us a call today and let’s get started.

©2011 Jane Neville Dudik, The Acne Treatment Center,