Adult acne: Why it happens and what you can do for it

Acne can be particularly frustrating for adults. A treatment that worked so well during our teen years can be useless — or make acne worse. If this happens, you may wonder whether those blemishes really are acne. After all, do adults get acne?

Reasons for adult acne

Yes, adults get acne. Some adults continue to get acne well into their 30s, 40s, and even 50s. It is even possible to get acne for the first time as an adult. Dermatologists call this “adult-onset acne.” It is most common among women going through menopause. Women tend to get adult acne more often than men do. If you’re getting acne as an adult, it is likely due to one or more of the following reasons:

Fluctuating hormone levels: An imbalance can lead to breakouts.

Women often experience fluctuating hormones:

  • Around their periods
  • During pregnancy, peri-menopause, and menopause
  • After discontinuing (or starting) birth control pills

Stress: Researchers have found a relationship between stress and acne flare-ups. In response to stress, our bodies produce more androgens (a type of hormone). These hormones stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can lead to acne. This explains why acne can be an ongoing problem when we find ourselves under constant stress.

 

Family history: Does a close blood relative, such as a parent, brother, or sister have acne? Findings from research studies suggest that some people may have a genetic predisposition for acne. People who have this predisposition seem more likely to get adult acne.

Read more at the American Academy of Dermatology’s post on Adult acne.

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