Acne is not just a teenage problem

For many people adult acne can occur in later life, when the stress of juggling families and careers takes its toll. Many of the patients who go to Bernie Fahy, skin specialist, also have stressful jobs. Interestingly, many did not have significant acne as teenagers.

Attacks of adult acne tend to be more sporadic, with women suffering breakouts before and during periods, due to hormonal changes in the body. Men tend to suffer more in their teens due to testosterone. Women past their mid-twenties tend to get more cystic, harder-to-treat acne, under the skin.

In general, acne can be triggered by hormones, by a bacterial infection, and/or by stress. In order to treat acne effectively, the underlying cause must be identified.

One simple step that can often help is taking vitamin A, which helps maintain hormonal balance. Research has shown that people with severe acne typically have low levels of vitamin A in their blood. There are several reports of adolescent women with imbalanced hormonal function and consequent acne who were ‘cured’ of acne within a few weeks of taking vitamin A supplements. In one case, even the scars left from the acne disappeared.

Another patient also reported that her face cleared up within one month of taking vitamin A, vitamin E, and brewers’ yeast tablets. Good natural sources of vitamin A include carrots; green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale and spinach; and yellow and orange fruits like peaches, apricots, and mangoes.

Bernie Fahy works in Ballinrobe, Westport, and Galway. She can be contacted at 086 2220125 or

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