When most of us think of breakouts, we think of adolescence; blemishes go hand-in-hand with puberty right? Wrong. While teenagers do make up the largest percentage of the blemish-afflicted population, they're not alone in their suffering. Breakouts strike adults, too - more than half of all adult women and about a quarter of adult men. And these figures appear to be climbing. As the world begins to wake up to adult breakouts, it's becoming clear that the psychological, social and physical effects of this condition don't diminish with age.
Why the Sudden Interest?
It's difficult to know for sure exactly why adult breakouts seem to be on the rise. One study found that the mean age of patients treated for breakouts had increased significantly over the course of a decade, from 20.5 years to 26.5 years. This could mean one of two things: either more adults are getting breakouts, or more adults are seeking help for their breakouts. One can make a compelling case for either statement - but most likely both are true. While some recent studies have suggested that incidences of adult breakouts are increasing, others suggest that adults (particularly women) are simply more concerned about their skin than they used to be.
Lingering Problem, Lasting Effects
Whether breakouts persist through adolescence into adulthood or strike suddenly after 30, the condition can have lasting physical and psychological ramifications. Dermatologists have known for many years that adult breakouts are more likely to leave permanent physical scars; as the skin ages and loses collagen, it's much harder for it to bounce back after tissue damage. For many years, the prevailing perception was that older sufferers were less affected by their condition than younger people, having accepted its symptoms as part of life. Without a visible peer group, many of these people felt too ashamed to step forward to get help. Adults with breakouts found themselves suffering silently - and most importantly, privately.
We're Not Going to Take it Anymore!
Two recent developments suggest that public perceptions are changing. Dermatologists have reported an increase in the number of adult patients coming to them for help. As the world's awareness shifts to include adults in the group of blemish-afflicted people, more adults are coming forward with their skin problems. Bolstered by this fact, today's adult breakout sufferer is learning to be proactive. Not surprisingly, these new attitudes are reflected in the product market. Both prescription treatments (including oral contraceptives) and over-the-counter breakout products have experienced an increase in sales.
Greater Awareness, New Hopes
As we begin to recognise breakouts as a problem for all ages, we can find better ways to fight them. Doctors, like everyone else, are beginning to see breakouts as an adult problem. With reported cases of adult breakouts on the rise, doctors will be considering the special causes and unique effects of this condition on older patients. And as public awareness increases, more people are likely to consider seeking help - and take the first steps toward a breakout-free existence.