Can Sugar Cause Adult Acne?

Can Sugar Cause Adult Acne?

Your adult years are supposed to be free of the troubles of adolescence, so having acne in your 20s and beyond can be frustrating. You're not alone: as many as 70 percent of adults between 20 and 50 years of age will suffer breakouts.

Adult acne is more common in women than in men. Blemishes must include blackheads and whiteheads to be considered acne instead of a rash or reaction. Adult acne contains sebum (oil) and bacteria that lives in pores. If your pores are prone to clogging, inflammation results from your immune system trying to fix the clogged pores. Read on to learn more about triggers, treatment and the connection between adult acne and a sugary diet.

Acne Triggers

Knowing the causes of acne can help you combat this disheartening affliction. Some of the contributing factors include the following:

  • Higher number of hormone receptors in oil glands
  • Trapped bacteria that multiplies in your pores and causes inflammation
  • Immune system over-reaction, which sends too many white cells to fight bacteria
  • Stress hormone cortisol
  • Excess sebum causing dead skin cells to clump, clogging pores
  • Poor dietary habits

Do sugary foods cause acne?

Most acne sufferers have been told to cut back on sweets by their well-meaning family and friends. The sugar connection has been downplayed in recent years, but research does link foods with a high glycemic index to acne because of the impact on insulin. These are foods that cause your blood sugar to spike. When this happens, so does your insulin level, which can lead to skin changes that trigger acne.

To spare your skin more breakouts, cut back on sweets and starchy foods, and focus more on foods with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains and vegetables.

Acne treatment options

Various treatment options are available, some involving the help of a dermatologist. Things you can try to help your acne include the following:

  • Take hormone-blocking medication
  • Try anti-inflammatory medication
  • Reduce your stress levels
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle and improve your diet, sleep patterns and fitness level
  • Maintain proper hydration
  • Try photodynamic therapy (light treatment)
  • Apply topical acne medication

When to see a doctor for acne treatment

While some acne fades on its own or responds to home treatment, other conditions require a doctor's care. Red bumps that are deep and painful may be cystic acne, which can scar if not treated with prescription medication. Adult acne can also be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome, which is caused by hormonal imbalance and has potentially serious side effects such as reproductive difficulties, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Adult acne may seem like a mild affliction but it can have lasting effects on your well-being, in addition to being a symptom of something more serious. If your acne doesn't respond to home treatment, visit your doctor for diagnostic and treatment advice.