Most teenagers develop acne and usually grow out of their acne by about the ages of 19 or 20.
However, in some people, especially the more severe cases, the acne may persist into adulthood or sometimes it may only even start in adulthood we refer to the latter as “adult-onset acne”. This can continue well into their 30s, 40s, and even 50s.
Adult acne is most common among women and the pimples often form along the jawline and chin. This can be very frustrating as if dealing with wrinkles at this age is not enough.
Reasons for adult acne
If you’re getting acne as an adult, it is likely due to one or more of the following reasons:
Fluctuating hormone levels:
As with teenage acne, adult acne is also hormone-dependent and in the older woman, it can occur at the time of peri-menopause and menopause. An imbalance in hormones 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
Researchers have found a link between stress and acne flare-ups. In response to stress, our bodies produce more androgens (male hormones). These hormones stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which in turn can lead to acne. This explains why acne can be an ongoing problem when we find ourselves under constant stress.
Findings from research studies suggest that some people may have a genetic predisposition for acne. Does a close blood relative, such as a parent, brother, or sister have acne? People who have this predisposition seem more likely to get adult acne.
Hair and skin care products:
Use of rich or greasy skin products and/or sunscreens can clog the pores and trigger acne. Therefore, all skin products and make-up should state oil-free or non-comedogenic on their labels.
Acne resulting from hair products commonly affects the forehead and we refer to it as ‘pomade ‘acne.
Medication side effect:
Acne is a common side effect of some medicines. It is important that you notify your doctor about any medication you might be taking including herbal treatments. Common offending medication includes treatment for epilepsy, tuberculosis, depression, steroids, halogens and B vitamins.
Undiagnosed medical condition:
Sometimes, acne is a sign of an underlying medical condition. Once the medical condition is diagnosed and treated, the acne often clears.
Effective treatment is available. I often use a combination of two or more treatments. Treatment options include topical therapy, antibiotics, hormonal therapy, chemical peels, and isotretinoin. A treatment that worked so well during your teen years can also prove to be useless later on in life. Good home care products are also essential for optimal results.
People with a darker skin type are more likely to be left with what we call post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation leaving a small brown mark wherever there was a pimple. This can be extremely frustrating for the person affected by these marks, in patients who tend to fiddle with or pick their acne, this can be a bigger problem. Therefore, people with darker skin should be treated more aggressively to prevent this complication as well as scarring.
With some commitment and a bit of patience, virtually every case of acne can be controlled.