Skincare Tips

Adult Acne: Truth, Myths and Treatment of Acne in Adults

We’d all love to have the energy of a 16 year old. We’d be thrilled to have the waistline we had in highschool. And yet, there is one aspect of being teens that we don’t miss: having acne.

Acne, that bane of our senior year, can unfortunately come back to haunt our in our senior years. And it can also strike those individuals who had no skin problems in their youth.

Many people say “I’m 60 years old – why am I breaking out like a teenager?”

The late-blooming condition is known as acne rosacea (pronounced rose-ay-shah), and while it has little in common with the teen-age variety of acne, it still has the same effect on the surface – red, blotchy, inflamed spots on the face, neck and even shoulders. Except this time, we don’t outgrow it.

teen-age variety of acne

Once it sets in, acne rosacea can’t be cured. It can, however, be controlled. It is certainly a treatable situation and there is successful treatment for it.

Acne rosacea is actually one of the most common skin problems, according to area dermatologists. About 5 percent to 8 percent of the population gets it, and on average dermatologists see between six and eight patients a week with acne rosacea.

Most are over 40 when rosacea first appears, and thought their acne years were far behind them. While there are those same unsightly pimples, there are no blackheads with acne rosacea, because it doesn’t involve the oil glands in the skin.

The exact cause of acne rosacea is, as yet, not completely known. It’s definitely a skin infection, but the agent hasn’t been isolated. Sometimes, we can be going along, not doing anything wrong, and we’ll have a flare of acne rosacea.

A probable candidate for acne rosacea are people who embarass easily. People who flush or blush often tend to be more prone to the condition, based on some newer studies. Things that trigger a blush response are spicy foods, hot beverages, caffeine, exposure to sunlight.

They can also aggravate acne rosacea. But it’s a myth that acne rosacea is a sign of heavy drinking. While alcohol can be a factor, there’s no indication that it’s a cause in rosacea.

The danger lies in ignoring acne rosacea or hoping it will go away on its own. While it won’t develop into anything life-threatening, rosacea can become severe enough that it causes permanent skin changes.

Unfortunately, when we wait, that’s when we see the permanent changes in the skin that are hard to erase.

Especially on men, acne rosacea can produce the bulbous, reddened nose typified by 1920s comedian W.C. Fields, a well-known acne rosacea sufferer.


He helped begin the myth that the ruddy complexion and red nose were trademarks of the chronic drunk.

Spider veining near the surface of the skin can become more pronounced with rosacea. Eyes, too, can be affected by acne rosacea, leaving them red and itching.

People think they have an infection in their eyes. They burn all the time, and it’s something that definitely needs treatment.

Acne rosacea can be controlled in most cases. The standard treatment is an oral antibiotic, usually tetracycline, coupled with a topical cream or gel made with a second antibiotic, metronitozal.

If treatment starts early enough, the person often can stop oral drugs, though the topical treatments will probably have to continue indefinitely.