When acne isn’t just a teenage phase – Health

“It started with just one, really bad pimple.”

When Iona first got the blemish, she was irritated, but not too concerned.

She assumed the pimple was the result of a few late nights or some junk food — nothing out of the ordinary.

“But [after a while] I realised that I consistently had this one really bad pimple, and then consistently had a couple of really bad pimples,” Iona said.

Key points: When acne isn’t just a teenage phase

What you need to know about adult acne:

  • Usually one of two types: acne vulgaris or acne rosacea
  • Acne vulgaris can be hangover from adolescence — thought to last 10 to 12 years
  • Acne vulgaris can leave scars but acne rosacea doesn’t
  • Treatments include medications, a different diet and simple things like changing bed clothes at night
  • Nearly half of all adults have acne into their 30s

The acne came as a surprise for Iona, who didn’t have a history of acne.

“And I thought that was kind of odd because both my sisters had to go on [prescription acne medicine] in their teen years. I thought that I’d been lucky or blessed with good skin.”

But in her early 20s, with no marked change in lifestyle or diet, Iona began to struggle with constant outbreaks of acne around her mouth and cheeks.

“For a while, I assumed it was a phase. But after two years, I decided that ‘I have bad skin’,” she said.

“I stopped thinking about it as a temporary thing and it became a fixed state.”

Now 27, Iona has had acne, at varying degrees of severity, for the past five years.

A lack of information

Iona said when her skin started to get bad, she had very little information about what the term “adult acne” meant.

“I didn’t really know what was going on,” she said.

“But it’s a difficult thing to identify, because people approach skin conditions in such different ways.

“Some people think it’s just a reflection of your lifestyle or what type of contraception you’re on, for example.

“There were so many variables — whether I was on the pill or I wasn’t, whether I was eating dairy, whether I was drinking [alcohol] or not.”

Half of us have acne into our 30s

In fact, up to half of all men and women experience acne into their 30s, University of Melbourne Professor of medicine Rodney Sinclair said.

Diet and acne

Does diet impact acne?

  • Studies show no strong link with chocolate or…

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