top of page

Adult Acne

What causes adult acne?

For most people who suffer from acne, they get to blame their family.  It is an inherited tendency of the pores to clog up with dead skin cells too quickly which causes a cascade of acne-forming events to happen.  Therefore some people never “grow out” of their acne until much older. Other people don’t have acne in their teenage years, but start breaking out in their twenties and/or thirties. Why their acne laid “dormant” for their teenage years is a mystery, but as adults, many things can contribute to the onset of acne problems:

Hormonal fluctuations caused by:

  • birth control

  • Plan B

  • pregnancy

  • premenstrual syndrome

  • medications, and

  • menopause

Hormones can also affect your propensity for breakouts, sometimes causing severe acne flare-ups in women who never got a single pimple as teenagers. If your skin is acne-prone, choose a birth control method that won’t make your acne worse, and learn about the relationship between hormones and acne so you can prepare yourself ahead of time for any changes in your skin that may arise. A condition called pyoderma faciale which mimics acne is a sudden breakout that happens to women in their thirties.

Medical conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or thyroid disorder can wreak havoc with the skin.

Medications for bipolar disorder like lithium, thyroid medications, anticonvulsant medications, lo-dose birth control pills, corticosteroids, sobriety drugs, etc, can also cause acne.

Pore-clogging ingredients in makeup, skincare, and hair care can be a culprit in adult acne.  Even if a product says “non-pore-clogging” or “noncomedogenic” on the label you cannot trust it. I have seen scores of products claiming this and look at the ingredient deck to see pore-cloggers.

Smoking can be a culprit when it comes to acne. According to German researchers from the Technical University of Munich, report the results of a study which found that smoking is a clinically important contributory factor to acne prevalence and severity.


The difference between adult acne and teenage acne

One of the challenges of adult acne is that skin generally becomes less oily and more sensitive. Acne products and treatments that worked well in your teen years may dry you out or cause severe irritation. If you had acne as a teen, you may have noticed that acne seems to travel down and across your face as you age. You used to break out on your forehead, and now you break out on your cheeks. Then it goes to the jawline and sometimes the neck.  This is because the sebaceous follicles mature in stages. For this reason, adult acne is most commonly concentrated around the cheeks, chin, and/or jawline. It is imperative to use the right strength of acne-clearing products on older skin.  Also, starting slowly with a routine allowing the skin to adapt to strong products is an important strategy.

The good news: acne products can also be anti-aging!

People who have had acne since adolescence may be under the impression that their pimples are unstoppable. Adult acne sufferers have usually tried various prescription medications, over-the-counter acne systems and every spa treatment and facial under the sun. The reality is that effective acne treatments and products do exist.

At Face Reality Acne Clinic, we advise adult acne sufferers to work closely with our acne specialists for a period of three to four months to achieve a lifetime of clear skin.

bottom of page