How Can I Prevent Acne Breakouts in my 30s?

Still getting periodic acne breakouts in my 30s. What do I have to do to stop getting acne.  Change my diet?  Clean my face with special soaps?  Any help is super appreciated.

Doctor Answers 15

5 Tips for acne prevention

There are a few other things you can do to help with acne. These include:

1. Dietary changes that may help include avoiding excessive dairy consumption, due to the presence of hormones in certain dairy products and decreasing your intake of fast-food, particularly fried, greasy foods and increasing your intake of antioxidants including berries (blueberries, pomegranate juice, citrus fruits).

2. Stress can be a significant factor in the development of acne so anything you can do to decrease stress in your life can help. Regular cardiovascular exercise is one way of reducing stress.

3. Any products placed on the face should be oil-free, water-based, non-comedogenic (meaning non pore-clogging). Gentle cleansers rather than soaps should be used to cleanse the face.

4. If you notice your makeup is clogging your pores and causing whiteheads and blackheads, switch brands, preferably to a mineral makeup. I agree that no makeup should be left on the face overnight.

5. Hormonal changes particularly in women of child-bearing age can cause regular acne break-outs. Consider speaking to your dermatologist about available preventative hormonal therapies if this is the case. Good luck.

San Diego Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

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Adult acne in the 30's

Acne is adults is extremely common. Like teenage acne, it's likely caused by the interaction of hormones and your skin. The treatments are similar to teenage acne, including topical creams, pills, laser, blue light therapy, and birth control pills for women. Only your dermatologist can determine the right treatment for you. Diet, keeping clean, etc, appear to have little to do with adult acne.

Gary Goldenberg, MD
New York Dermatologist

Acne Prevention in Middle Age

Typically acne is hormonal when older and treating with spironolactone or cosmetic treatments like clear + brilliant laser, microneedling, and salicylic acid peels.  I suggest finding an acne and scaring specialist.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Acne and Diet

Diet change is worth a try and would probably help to a degree with your acne. Acne in the minds of many nutritionalists is in large part a food-borne illness–that is, it is preventable by changing what you eat. Acne is non-existent in non-Westernized populations (such as the Inuit, Okinawa islanders, Ache hunter-gatherers, and Kitavan islanders, all of whom do not consume dairy products), suggesting that acne is largely, if not completely, caused by diet. A study in 2011 in Korea, which followed a total of 1285 participants (783 with acne and 502 as control), supports this idea, concluding that “a high glycemic load diet, dairy food intake, high fat diet, and iodine in Korean foods appear to play a role in acne exacerbation.”

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
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People of All Ages Get Acne; Genetics and Hormones Play a Role

Adults get acne too. As a dermatologist, we see people of all ages with acne and we base treatment on what kind of acne one has and then develop a treatment plan that we think best. Acne is genetic and hormonal, and where I have seen people say diet, stress and other things are involved, while they may contribute to things, they do not cause acne in 99.9% of people. Acne happens in adults, and we take care of it to minimize it.  Medicines are used but also lasers and light when needed. See your dermatologist and get it cleared as fast as you can.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Acne can occur at any age - even adulthood.

I recommend visiting a dermatologist to discuss treatment for your acne. It's important to figure out the cause of your acne. Often in adults, acne is caused by hormone fluctuations, especially if you are getting cysts around your chin and jaw. It is also important to begin a good skincare regimen consisting of a daily topical retinoid to help prevent blackheads and whiteheads, which are often the precursor to inflammatory lesions like pus bumps.

If you are female and your doctor determines that your acne is caused by hormonal imbalances, a medication like spironolactone can help; also visiting your ob-gyne can be helpful especially if you are having irregular periods.

There is some evidence that acne can be worsened by a high glycemic index diet. If not for acne, eating a well-balanced diet of whole foods like fruits and vegetables can certainly help with your overall well-being. 

Andrea Hui, MD
San Francisco Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Adult acne

Acne in adults may have a hormonal component and may respond to hormonal therapy such as birth control pills or other medications that regulate hormones.  You would need to see a dermatologist for evaluation.  Diet has not been proven to cause acne, although for some people, certain foods may appear to worsen acne.  Cleaning the face with special soaps may help, but may not be enough if the acne is hormonal.  (This answer is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this posting is for patients’ general education only.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for further evaluation of your individual case.)

Mireille Chae, MD
Seattle Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Treatment of Adult Acne

Adult acne is frustrating, and unfortunately very common.  Recent research has suggested that foods with a high glycemic index may be related to the development of acne, so you may consider examining your diet.  However, my best advice is to meet with a dermatologist to evaluate your skin closely.  Adult acne is often hormonal, and different patterns of acne will indicate to your dermatologist that this is the case.  They can then recommend the appropriate treatment.  Our patients with adult acne often see tremendous improvement after undergoing a short series of Isolaz acne treatment and Photodynamic Therapy in the office.  These treatments can provide dramatic improvement, especially for people who have not seen improvement with prescription medications or dietary changes.

Eric Schweiger, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Treatment for Breakouts

I would suggest the Elos Laser Acne treatment. It works by combining Bi-Polar Radiofrequency and Blue Light energies to penetrate the skin to precisely target and destroy active acne-causing bacteria, while simultaneously slowing excessive sebaceous oil production. Treatments help to reduce active acne and speeds up healing time.
Elos Laser Acne treatment is effective in all skin types and the number of treatments depends upon the severity of acne. Treatments are made comfortable by the placement of topical numbing creme, with further comfort provided by cooling the skin surface. There is no associated down time with treatments, and normal activities can be started immediately the procedure is performed.

How to prevent adult acne

Adults, and particularly women, tend to flare occasionally with adult acne. In women, fluctuation of hormones during the menstrual cycle play a significant role. Aside from this a few simple measures of prevention of acne include:

1. Cleansing your face twice daily! with a mild cleanser (Purpose by J&J over the counter). This will remove excess sweat and fatty residue that traps the pores and feeds bacteria the excess oils. By the way, never sleep with your makeup for the same reason.

2. While working out at the gym never put your face on the vinyl on a workout bench and do not touch your face while working out wash or shower right after this. Remember you could also get acne on your back.

3.Fatty meals, nuts and chocolate have again been linked to an exacerbation of acne. Eat them with measure.

4. Take plenty of antioxidants. Fruits are preferred like described below. Otherwise, vitamin C 1 gram twice daily ( you'll stay looking younger too!)

5. Continuous use of a thin layer of a retinoid cream on your face at bedtime will not only keep your skin smooth and looking healthy, but will also prevent acne flares.

6. Stress will trigger acne. There is even the 'vacation pimple' because of all the stress of traveling and packing, plus the change in food and sleeping habits that can happen on a vacation.

7. Avoid heavy makeup ( mousse and mineral makeups are preferred for acne prone skin). Avoid heavy oily sunnlocks. Micronized preparations of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sunblocks offer superior coverage and do not flare acnestHete this information is helpful. Best of luck! Dr. Leyda Bowes

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.