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Acne and rosacea are two common skin conditions that can be challenging to manage. Both of these conditions have an underlying root cause in common: inflammation. With acne, inflammation presents as red, often painful pimples and cysts on the skin. In rosacea, inflammation triggers a flare-up of red, stinging skin. Here’s how to treat both skin conditions and how to reduce inflammation when it strikes for calmer, quieter skin.

What Causes Adult Acne?

Acne is often thought of as a skin problem for teenagers, but for many people, acne can remain a prominent skin concern well into adulthood. In fact, one study found that 54% of women over 25 and 40% of men in the same age group had some amount of facial acne. Causes of adult acne can be varied and include:

  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Certain medications
  • Certain skin care and hair care products
  • Habits such as skin-picking

These factors can contribute to excess oil production, clogged pores, the presence of acne-causing bacteria, and inflammation.

How to Treat Adult Acne

Treating and preventing adult acne requires a two-step process: First, active acne should be treated and managed and secondly, underlying causes and triggers for acne must be addressed.

The best treatment regimen for active acne breakouts will address four specific areas:

  1. Reduce excess sebum, or oil, production. Use non-comedogenic cleansers and other skincare products and avoid ingredients that harshly dry the skin, which can trigger more oil production.
  2. Clear clogged pores. Use an alpha hydroxy acid cleanser to gently exfoliate your skin and remove dead skin, dirt, and oil from pores. Always wash your face and remove makeup before going to bed.
  3. Kill C. acnes bacteria on the skin. Use topical ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide to reduce acne-causing bacteria on the skin.
  4. Calm inflammation. Use topical ingredients such as salicylic acid, niacinamide, and green tea extract to reduce redness and inflammation.

Once active acne is under control, the next step is to address underlying issues such as hormone changes, stress, and diet.

  • Hormones. Hormonal birth control, pregnancy, menopause, or hormonal imbalances caused by medical conditions like PCOS, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes can trigger adult acne. Work with your doctor to address any underlying hormone concerns that could be contributing to breakouts.
  • Stress. Chronic stress increases cortisol levels, which can increase oil production in the skin. Take steps to manage stress such as meditating, getting enough good-quality sleep, taking breaks from screens, and spending time outdoors to help reduce cortisol spikes and breakouts.
  • Diet. A high-glycemic index (GI) diet that is high in refined sugars and carbohydrates has been linked with higher prevalence of acne. Dairy, particularly skim milk, has also been linked with increased acne. Thus, switching to a low-GI diet and avoiding known food triggers like milk can help to prevent breakouts.

What Causes Rosacea?

Although distinct from acne, rosacea is also an inflammatory skin condition that can be triggered by a number of internal and external factors. One specific type of rosacea can present with acne-like pimples and pustules and may be caused by an inflammatory reaction to a specific type of bacteria. While the exact cause of rosacea is still unknown, scientists believe that a combination of factors could be at play, including genetics, autoimmune responses, and the presence of a particular kind of skin mite.

Flare-ups of rosacea symptoms, which include red flushing of the skin, visible blood vessels, stinging, and burning, are often triggered by:

  • Sun exposure
  • Emotional distress
  • Extremely hot and cold weather
  • Vigorous exercise
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods

How to Treat Rosacea

Because rosacea flare-ups are so commonly linked with the known triggers listed above, the first step in managing rosacea symptoms is to avoid or reduce those triggers as much as possible. Sun exposure triggers 81% of rosacea patients, making it the single most common trigger. Thus, practicing excellent sun protection habits such as wearing daily sunscreen and sun-protective clothing and seeking shade during peak daylight hours can significantly reduce flare-ups.
In addition to trigger avoidance, these solutions may be recommended by your dermatologist to help keep rosacea symptoms at bay:

  • Rosacea-friendly skincare. Use cleansers, moisturizers, and other skincare products that contain soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients like feverfew, chamomile, and green tea extract. Avoid abrasive physical exfoliants and harsh ingredients like drying alcohols, fragrances, and dyes.
  • Prescription medications like metronidazole, ivermectin, oxymetazoline, and others may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and other symptoms related to rosacea.
  • Laser and broadband light treatments. Laser treatments, like BBL can help to reduce redness and visible blood vessels.

Caring for Red, Inflamed Skin

For people with sensitive skin types, symptoms related to inflammation, such as redness, stinging, burning, dryness, and flaking, are common skin concerns. Follow these tips to help calm your skin and reduce these symptoms:
Avoid harsh skincare ingredients and products like drying alcohols, foaming cleansers, fragrances, and dyes whenever possible.

  • Avoid or limit physical exfoliants like facial scrubs and even DIY scrubs that contain ingredients like coffee grounds. Instead, talk to your dermatologist about in-office skin exfoliation treatments or at-home AHA cleansers.
    Gradually introduce new skincare ingredients into your routine, especially those like retinoids and vitamin C, which can cause stinging, redness or dryness.
  • Wash your face with lukewarm water — not too hot and not too cold. Gently pat dry with a clean towel.
  • Use anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients like chamomile, feverfew, green tea extract, and niacinamide.

Bottom Line

Inflammation is a root cause of many common skin concerns, including adult acne and rosacea. Thus, taking steps to calm inflammation is a crucial step in managing these conditions. Work with your dermatologist to get an accurate diagnosis of your inflammatory skin condition and a personalized treatment plan for lasting results.

If you still have questions about the best anti-inflammatory skincare regimen or treatment options for your skin’s unique needs, call our Delray Beach office at 561-692-6421 or contact us online to set up a consultation with one of our highly experienced and skilled medical professionals.