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What To Know About Adult Acne?

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Adult Acne – People may associate acne with puberty, but it can also occur in adulthood. Hormonal changes, stress, and certain medications can contribute to adult acne. However, many options are available to help people treat and prevent this skin condition.

Adult Acne Definition

Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition affecting approximately 50 million Americans yearly. It usually begins in adolescence but can occur at any stage of life and continue into adulthood. Therefore, doctors may also refer to adult acne as adult acne or post-adolescent acne.

It usually develops when oil and dead skin cells clog skin pores, causing lesions commonly known as acne or blackheads.

And many different types of acne can occur all over the body. Acne most commonly develops on the face but can also appear on the back, chest, and shoulders.


Although acne is most common during adolescence, acne can persist into a person’s 30s, 40s, and 50s. Some people can even develop acne for the first time in adulthood. Research also establishes that adult acne is more common in women.

The American Academy of Dermatology says that the most mutual causes of acne in adults include the following.

Changes In Hormones

Like the leading cause of acne in teenagers, hormonal inequity can cause acne. Many factors can change hormone levels, including:


the pregnancy

perimenopause refers to the time before and immediately after menopause


And starting or stopping birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives


When experiencing stress, some people may experience acne breakouts, possibly because the body produces more androgen hormones in response. These hormones can cause acne by stimulating the sebaceous glands in the skin.

Family History

Some evidence suggests that some people can take a genetic predisposition to acne. For example, if a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, has acne, a person is extra likely to grow adult acne.

Beauty Products

Some hair and skin care products can contain ingredients that can aggravate acne-prone skin. Using them can cause acne breakouts. For this reason, people may only consider using products labelled as:


acne free

Bend down

does not clog pores

drug side effects

And some medications can cause acne as a side effect. So if someone suspects their medication is activating their acne, they should continue taking it but discuss alternative treatment options with their doctor.

Medications that cause acne include hormonal medications, antidepressants, B vitamins, halogens, and antiepileptics.

Undiagnosed medical conditions

In some cases, adult acne can result from an underlying medical condition, so treating the disease can often make acne disappear. For example, people with PCOS often develop adult acne due to fluctuations in hormone levels.


Symptoms of adult acne are often similar to acne of any age. When experiencing acne breakouts, people may notice the following:

white dots

black dots

papules, pustules, or both

nodules, cysts, or both

Treatment Options

Treatment of acne in adults can be similar to that in younger people. They may include topical acne medications and review possible causes, such as underlying conditions, certain medications, stress, and any beauty or skin care products a person is using.

A dermatologist may recommend the use of over-the-counter (OTC) products that contain the following ingredients:

benzoyl peroxide

And retinoids such as adapalene gel

salicylic acid

If over-the-counter products don’t work, doctors may recommend more potent treatments. These may include:

prescription retinoids, such as topical tretinoin or oral isotretinoin

antibiotics such as tetracyclines

oral contraceptives or antiandrogens such as spironolactone

However, it is value noting that it can take 4-6 weeks to start noticing an effect with acne treatments. In addition, acne can sometimes take 2-3 months to clear up completely.