How to tackle adult acne

Just when you think you’re having a few days of calm skin…BAM! A pimple shows up. And, if you (like us) end up picking on it till it’s bloody, then here’s some beauty advice to well…not. In our latest edition of the ELLE masterclass on Instagram, ELLE’s beauty and health director Mamta Mody chatted with Dr Rashmi Shetty, dermatologist and founder of Ra Skin and Aesthetics, about adult acne and summer breakouts. “The combination of extreme heat and humidity is what affects skin. Plus, because of COVID, we’re all wearing masks that cover our T-zones,” says explains Dr Shetty. Our forehead, nose and the area around the mouth and chin have a higher number of oil glands compared to the rest of your face making them more prone to breakouts.

Read on as Dr Rashmi Shetty sheds light on the most commonly asked questions about acne and summer breakouts…


Why do I have acne along my jawline?

It can be a sign of hormonal imbalances so Dr Rashmi Shetty suggests consulting a doctor and getting your hormone levels checked before picking a treatment. “Hormonal acne is the result of high testosterone levels and is often accompanied by sudden weight fluctuations and pigmentation on your neck,” she explains. For spot treatment, she recommends using benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid or tea tree oil-based acne stickers to soothe skin.

Image: Instagram (@zitstika)


Why does my skin feel bumpy?

Dr Shetty says, “It’s a sign that the pore is in the initial stages of getting clogged whereas acne is a result of this congestion getting infected and inflamed.”


Which at-home remedies would you recommend for acne prone skin?

Dr Shetty cautions, “Remember not all home remedies are safe, infact certain natural ingredients may not suit your skin. For example, if you tend to breakout, using ghee will do more harm than good, and lemon or other citrus juices will irritate dry skin.” If using a particular DIY causes redness and excessive dryness, steer clear of it. “Avoid abrasive scrubs as they can cause microtears and cuts.” And, as hard as it is, do not pick on acne. If you absolutely have to, she recommends, “Pinch your skin away from the breakout instead of squishing the skin close to it.” This will help drain it all the way and prevent repeat eruptions in the same area. However, prescription skincare is your best bet.


adult acne
GIF: Giphy

How can I reduce my pores?

“The most you can do is minimize them. Some people have larger pores from an early age whereas for others, pores become more pronounced as they age due to a decrease in collagen production and skin elasticity,” explains Dr Shetty. She recommends looking for collagen-boosting ingredients like peptides, retin-A and tretinoin, and icing your face before using make-up to reduce pore size. “In-clinic treatments with energy-based devices that stimulate collagen help to some extent and so does microbotox. Its effects last upto a month and a half but its essential to make sure you are going to a good professional,” she adds.


How do I lighten acne marks and scars?

“If you have red marks, use calamine lotion or niacinamide- and liquorice-spiked creams to soothe skin,” recommends Dr Shetty. She also swears by using sandalwood paste to fade acne marks. It has antibacterial properties that over time, prevent breakouts. Some over the counter options are azelaic or kojic acid creams and 2 per cent hydroquinone topical treatments. She adds, “To treat scars and marks, in-clinic options like peels or Q switched-laser treatments can do wonders. And, for the pit that acne leaves behind, try microneedling with radiofrequency, a collagen stimulating laser or even a filler.”


How do I tend to breakout on my nose? 

“This can be caused by dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis or even an oily scalp,” says Dr Shetty. She recommends using Brevoxyl Cream Face Wash that has benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient that reduces acne-causing bacteria on skin. Use a 1-2 per cent salicylic acid cream or 4-5 per cent benzoyl peroxide-based treatment, like Epiduo gel to spot calm pimples. “Glycolic acid can also help acne. For normal skin, use a 6 per cent solution and for oily skin, you can go up to 12 per cent,” says Dr Shetty.


Can my diet really impact my skin?

Dr Shetty says, “This is true and that’s why it’s important to not miss out on any food groups. Skipping fats or carbs isn’t advisable. Many people don’t eat rice when in fact, Mangalorean or unpolished rice is very rich in B complexes.” These B vitamins fight free radical damage and slow down skin ageing.


GIF: GiphyCan I use nose strips for clogged pores?

Dr Shetty says, “I’d say no because tugging can damage your skin and strips cause allergic reactions and redness.”


What’s a good sunscreen for acne prone skin?

“The trick is to use a lightweight, matte, silicon-based formula that will sit like a layer on your skin,” she says. For excessively oily skin, she suggests skipping moisturiser and using just sunblock while stepping out. “Once you’re home, do your skincare routine.”


What can I do to treat PCOD and PCOS-related acne?

“First meet your doctor, get your blood work done and figure out which hormone is in excess. Then, try to cut down on sugar and milk and start exercising. Stress, along with the fat that accumulates around your organs in the peritoneal cavity [liver, spleen and stomach] is what kickstarts PCOS,” she explains.


Photograph: Tarun Vishwa


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