Traditionally thought of as something that plagues only adolescents, acne is something that impacts all genders of all ages. While it is more common for adolescents to experience breakouts, many adults must deal with bumpy skin as well. The median age of those affected by acne has risen to 26.5 years old, for males and females, up 23%. Male acne can be more difficult to treat as well.
What Is Acne?
Acne is caused by a hormone imbalance that causes the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce too much oil (sebum). The sebum combines with dead skin cells and dirt from the external environment and is the perfect breeding ground for acne. Acne is used as a general term that covers whiteheads, pimples, blackheads and cysts.
For males, testosterone can be the catalyst that causes the overproduction of sebum. Although men and women both have amounts of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone, men produce significantly higher amounts of acne-causing testosterone. This can put men at risk for frequent and hard to treat breakouts.
What Are Some of the Acne Treatments?
There are a few different approaches to treatments of male hormonal acne. The first is to control the symptoms by killing the bacteria that mixes with the sebum to cause a flare-up. The next is to prevent new breakouts from occurring by stopping the acne cycle, that is, to change the factors that cause the overproduction of sebum.
Creams and Cleansers
Over the counter creams and gels can help to cleanse the area of bacteria. These products usually have benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid in their ingredient list. As a result, the symptoms will be controlled, but the acne cycle won’t be broken. The skin may be left dry and irritated.
Other treatments that work to control the acne cycle are the administration of antibiotics to the skin, or the use of Vitamin A derivatives (retinoids. However, antibiotics can lead to stomach problems and sensitivity to UV rays. The user may also face a higher likelihood of developing skin cancer. Vitamin A derivatives, known by the brand name Accutane, carry an even higher risk. Accutane was involved in a class action lawsuit and pulled from the market, but generic forms are still available. Side effects include hair loss, dry skin, and in more severe cases, depression and suicidal thoughts.
No matter which treatment plan is chosen to treat male hormonal acne flare-ups, keep in mind that it’s important to not only treat existing bumps and lumps, but to actually break the acne cycle to prevent new acne from forming. Different people can benefit from different treatment plans to best manage their unique skin situation.