In her case, repeated trips to the dermatologist gave her no respite, but birth control pills did. And when she became pregnant with her first child at 29, the acne disappeared.
“Hormonal adult onset acne: Been there, done that,” laughed Dr. Gloria Graham, a dermatologist in practice with her husband in Morehead City, N.C., referring to her own bout with acne as an adult. “Women find when there is an increase in male hormones, they break out. An influx of more estrogen can balance out the system. That’s why hormone therapy can work for a lot of women.”
Avoiding permanent scarring has been a prime motivator of Morgan’s 15-year practice. While not an advocate of long-term antibiotic treatment for acne, Morgan does endorse the use of the powerful prescription drug, Accutane.
“Trying to save a face and preventing scarring are wonderful things. I don’t agree with long-term antibiotic use that doesn’t work and allows the patient to scar,” Morgan explained. “Accutane used in a very prudent way can do that.”
For Sribnick, a 23-year-old student at the Medical University of South Carolina in Columbia, it was a heaven-sent remedy. “Phenomenal. That’s what it was.
It takes a little bit of time to kick in, probably three weeks, maybe a month of being on it, then it kind of hits you and your face is clear.”
Sribnick had two treatments: One when he was 15, and the other at 19. His face has remained clear ever since.
“It’s the atom bomb of acne. It’s a retinoid similar to Retin A [a topical treatment], but it’s an oral preparation. It is so amazing. It is one of the only drugs that can actually reduce the size of the oil glands, so it makes the skin drier overall while taking it,” Graham said.
“I was overjoyed,” Sribnick said. “Acne is really bacteria growing on your face. The pustules erupt and it really does look like it’s a hygienic thing — like you aren’t keeping your face clean. In actuality, it’s hereditary. But even though you know that, you can’t help being affected by the way society looks at it. A lot of people think, ‘That poor slob is not taking care of himself.'”
“Everyone has an opinion, and they’re so rude. They just walk up and start talking to you about your skin. Here they have this porcelain skin and they’re telling you what to do. You feel really small because they think you are doing this to yourself. It’s hurtful, hateful and horrible,” Rodgers added.
Like many other adult acne sufferers, having the tools of maturity has been the key to psychologically overcoming the problem.
“I’ve accepted it as a personality builder,” Rodgers said. “While I was going through it, beauty [was the] most the important thing on the planet. But now I’ve used it to help me become a better judge of character, because it’s what’s inside that counts.”