Acne in your thirties


“I am in my 30s and I still get acne. What should I do?”

Having acne at any age can be frustrating, depressing and embarrassing. In most cases acne starts at puberty, and tends to disappear by the mid to late-twenties. In some cases it can persist into your thirties and forties or even appear for the first time at this age. Patients often wonder why this is. It is not uncommon for it to go unrecognized as a treatable skin condition and be labelled as “skin breakouts” or simply “bad skin”.  

It is important to see your Dermatologist promptly to:

  1. establish the correct diagnosis,

  2. rule out and correct any underlying reason for the acne e. g. hormonal imbalance, wrong cosmetic product, smoking, and

  3. initiate the correct treatment in order to minimize the risks of scarring and pigmentation. 

Many of the over the counter anti-acne products can complement prescribed treatments, but are generally not effective in clearing the acne spots on their own. Prescribed treatments are varied and can be used in isolation or in combination. These can be split into four categories:

  1. antiseptic, antibiotic or vitamin A derived creams and gels,

  2. a few oral contraceptive pills,

  3. different types of antibiotics with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and 

  4. the more potent vitamin A derived oral medication called isotretinoin or commonly known as Roaccutane®, the latter being one of the common brands.

Asides from precribed treatments facial peels can be very effective for what is called comedonal acne when people suffer mostly with blackheads and whiteheads. 

Apart from the severity of the acne there are other factors I take into consideration when treating one’s acne, particularly for someone in their 20s, 30s or 40s. These include previous treatments they may have tried, their general health, any medications they might be taking for the same or different reasons, how much the acne is actually affecting them physically, emotionally and socially. It also includes other important factors such as plans on getting pregnant or upcoming social committments and events. A holistic and systematic approach is the best recipe for best results for such a common, but simultaneously such a variable condition, affecting people in all sorts of different ways. 

Christina Vlachou