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If the word acne is something you associate with distant memories of your teenage years, consider yourself lucky. In the United States, cases of adult acne are on the rise and researchers are at a loss to determine the exact cause of the increase. Acne vulgaris is characterized by outbreaks of tender, red, pus-filled bumps over the face, neck, back or chest. It's not only the painful bumps that cause a host of problems for sufferers. Oftentimes people with acne suffer from embarrassment and shame due to the condition, and may avoid social situations or even work if the outbreak is severe. The psychological impact of adult acne is often quite serious, and some individuals also suffer from depression as a result of the condition.
There are a number of theories as to what causes acne. Acne can be caused by a change in hormone levels, and while it is most often associated with puberty, acne can also arise during pregnancy or menopause. Some research indicates that stress may also be a leading cause of acne outbreaks, which may shed some light on the sudden increased incidence of the condition in American adults, many of whom lead a strenuous life. Additional research points toward evidence that diet may be the culprit behind adult acne. Although previous research theorized that there were no direct links between food and acne, current scientists are beginning to rethink that hypothesis. The typical American diet is frequently full of fast foods, sugars, caffeine and alcohol, all of which can lead to increased toxicity and inflammation in the body. When our bodies are overtaxed, our organs, especially the liver, cannot keep up with the increased toxic burden. The excess toxins are then filtered out for elimination by organs such as the lungs and skin, and an increase in toxins and bacteria are then deposited on the surface of the skin. This may cause an increase in the frequency or severity of skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis.
Over the years many different treatments for acne have become available. Ranging from prescription drugs to dietary changes, these treatments also vary greatly in cost, side effects, and efficacy.