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  • We associate acne with our troubled teenage years but actually adult acne is more common than people think. It is not unusual for some adults to develop acne just as everyone else is outgrowing it – or even into their 40s and 50s – and it can be just as unpleasant and difficult to deal with.

    What is Acne?

    Acne is a breakout of pimples, papules and pustules.  A pimple is formed by a collection of fat, skin and keratin stuck in a hair follicle. When this is open, it is a blackhead, and when it is closed, it is a whitehead. Whiteheads can cause the walls of the hair follicle to rupture – and this causes the redness, irritation, inflammation and infection we associate with acne. It is most common on the face but can also occur on the neck, back, shoulders and upper arms. It can be embarrassing and painful for sufferers, irrespective of age.

    So what causes it in adults and how can you make it go away?

    There are a few different factors that could trigger a breakout of acne as an adult. It is not poor hygiene, a common misconception. Hormonal changes are one – when your body experiences a spike in hormones it can cause more oil production, which clogs the pores of your skin leading to pimples forming. Stress is another important factor – an increase in stress can cause more cortisol to be released in your body. Cortisol a steroid hormone that tells your body to produce oil that in turn clogs your pores. Your diet is an obvious one. Food that causes your blood sugar to spike – generally carbs and sugar, as in bread, pasta, and desserts – can lead to inflammation of the skin, triggering a breakout. Some people also have a reaction to dairy due to the hormones that are found in many dairy products.  When it comes to dairy, buying organic where possible can often help. But oftentimes, unfortunately, it is nothing you have done – it is just a reaction of your body that you have to deal with as best you can.

    Don’t forget a few key facts when dealing with acne, and these are true for both adults and teenagers. Hard scrubbing, or washing too often, does not make acne go away and the irritation may in fact make it worse. So clean your skin gently a couple of times a day and pat dry afterwards.  Keep your hands and hair clean – it is best not to touch your skin at all, which is almost impossible, but make sure your hands are clean and your hair is washed regularly. Tanning can temporarily mask acne but too much exposure to the sun can cause dryness and irritation, making breakouts more severe. And don’t pop and squeeze – this only pushes more bacteria to the surface.

    In addition to these day-to-day actions you can take to limit the appearance of acne, there are plenty of products available on the aesthetic market that can both limit the appearance, and treat the root causes. The difficult comes in knowing what is best for your skin.

    pHformula’s innovative products for treating acne

    pHformula understands how unpleasant acne can be – for teenagers and adults. And pHformula’s range of innovative and effective products are designed with both treatment and appearance in mind.

    Firstly, a strong barrier function is one of the most important qualities of healthy skin. A compromised barrier function can lead to breakouts, dehydration, sensitization and premature ageing. Your skin’s barrier function is weakened when you use harsh products that over exfoliate the skin, and when you are exposed to environmental factors such as extreme temperatures or pollution. So avoid potential irritants, like harsh chemicals and soap-based cleansers, don’t exfoliate too often, and protect your skin against the environment and excessive heat, dry air, cold wind, by wearing sunscreen for example. The more you protect your skin, the less likely it is to be susceptible to irritation and breakouts.

    pHformula has developed a unique acne treatment protocol suitable for anyone suffering from acne (grades I, II and III), from excess sebum, from enlarged pores, or from superficial scarring. The protocol is a seven-step formula: cleanse, degrease, skin permeability, occlusive, resurface, calm & hydrate, and protect.

    pHformula’s acne resurfacing treatment solutions, penetrate the pores to correct the main manifestations of acne – pimples, papules and pustules – as well as to act on the four main factors that can trigger acne – seborrhea (the excessive discharge of sebum from sebaceous glands), hyperkeratinisation (the name given to the disorder of the cells lining a hair follicle), microbial colonization (the first sign of infection), and inflammation. To be applied by a skin specialist, the active ingredients include pyruvic acid to penetrate the skin deeply and slowly, azeloglycine, which reduces and inhibits the growth of microbes in hair follicles, and mandelic acid, which kills the microbes, associated with acne breakouts. The treatment works to normalize your skin as quickly and effectively as possible.

    The resurfacing treatment is complemented by a tailored homecare prescription  – the E.X.F.O Cleanse for soothing cleansing and exfoliation, containing vitamin B5 to calm and hydrate and rooibos extract to scavenge free radicals; A.C.N.E Recovery, which speeds up skin recovery post-resurfacing, maintaining the overall health of the skin and preventing future skin damage; and U.V. protect 30+ or 50+ to protect your skin from harmful radiation while ensuring hydration.

    A breakout of adult acne can be upsetting and embarrassing – you thought those days were behind you, after all. But it is more common than you think and there are many different treatment options available. pHformula understands that you want to get rid of your acne quickly, painlessly, and without scarring and the range of unique and effective products are designed to do just that.

    Petru van Zyl
    Petru van Zyl
    Petru van Zyl is the founder of pHformula and one of South Africa's leading skincare therapists with over 18 years of experience to share. Petru is also a researcher and author of some of the most acknowledged and influential educational material used and applied in more than 28 countries today.