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Although common in teenagers, acne can affect people of all ages. Adults well into their 50’s can get acne, though the causes, symptoms, and treatments differ from teen acne. Stress levels can increase as we age, causing random spells of blemishes to appear on our faces. In addition to stress, adult acne can be elicited by other factors including genetics, hormones, hair and skin products, medications, undiagnosed medical conditions, and diet.


Genetics and family history play a role in adult acne. Some people are predisposed to develop “adult on-set acne.” Comparing notes with a sibling or parent is a good way to learn if you are at risk for this. Usually, those who have adult on-set acne did not experience it as a teen, or at minimal levels if they did.


Hormones play the biggest, underlying role in developing acne as an adult, especially in women. When hormone levels fluctuate, cortisol and androgen hormones are released; women release more androgens from their glands than males. Stress, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause all produce these substances, causing oilier skin. Because these bodily changes occur frequently in women, they typically experience a different form of acne than when they were teens, while males usually have the same type of acne they experienced in adolescent years. Adult women may notice acne is deeper and longer lasting than when they were younger.


Some medications, including mood stabilizers can cause acne in adults. Other undiagnosed medical issues can also cause acne. Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome for instance, is a reversible disorder found in women that can cause deep break outs.


Diet is another component today that causes acne, not just in adults either. In the 1950’s the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of steroids and hormones in meat (and therefore dairy) products. When we consume these products we also increase our hormone levels. Additionally, recent studies show that eating high glycemic index foods (processed foods with white flour and sugar) increase blood sugar, leading to an upsurge in hormones. The higher the hormone levels, the oilier the skin: thus leading to clogged pores and acne.

How to Treat Adult Acne

All adults can make some simple changes in their daily lives to combat this adult acne. All acne cases can be managed and treated. Cell turnover slows with age, meaning skin doesn’t bounce back from a break out as fast, so taking care of your skin and preventing breakouts is crucial. Follow these simple guidelines at home to manage adult acne:

  • Reduce your stress level. We know this is easier said than done, but give it a try. Take on yoga or meditation, get enough rest, and get some exercise (without heavy makeup on). All of these elements are proven to reduce stress in daily life.
  • Use oil-free makeup. Makeup products should say non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, or won’t clog pores. Using heavy, oily makeups will create the ideal setting for acne to flare up.
  • Change up your skincare routine and make it simple. As you’ve aged, you may have gotten thick skin figuratively, but actually, skin thins as we age. What does this mean? Our skin is much more sensitive to products, including the ones we used as teens. Many of the products we swore by as young adults are way too strong for our skin now. Benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oils are great for the aging epidermis; benzoyl gently kills bacteria that cause acne and tea tree oils smooth skin.
  • Don’t touch your breakouts. It’s very tempting to squeeze and prod at zits, but don’t do this. Your fingers, hands, and makeup tools are breeding grounds for bacteria. When a zit ruptures the bacteria inside of it does, too. Wash hands frequently and washes makeup brushes often.
  • Try eating organic meats and dairy products, and cut down on sugary foods. Organically raised meats will often contain little to none of the hormones and steroids approved by the FDA. Avoid foods like pasta, white rice, white bread, and sweets. Reducing the substances you consume from these foods will reduce hormone levels, in turn helping your skin.
  • Women: consider getting on birth control. This is not an option for everyone, but taking birth control pills will level out your hormone levels.
  • Men: reduce the time between shavings. If you are prone to beard-area acne, consider growing a beard or shaving daily. The time allowed between shaves also allows hair to grow, creating a bigger irritant for when you do decide to trim.

Consider visiting Barba Skin Clinic to treat your adult acne. Our acne clinic is knowledgeable and experienced in the treatment of adult acne and other skin conditions.

Contact Barba Skin Clinic

Our aestheticians are here to help. Don’t let adult acne hold you back. We offer peels, facials, and treatment plans targeted to help, if not cure adult acne. Schedule an appointment with one of our aestheticians through our online form, or call our office at 305-560-6813.