Acne that appear during adulthood after the age of twenty fivve years is called adult acne.  Causes of adult acne should be investigated for, as there is likely to be an underlying cause, especially when it has broken out for the first time during your grown-up years.

Though it is seen in both males and females, it is more common in women than in men.  About 80% of the adult are women. This is possibly due to the link between acne and hormonal changes in the body during periods, pregnancy and menopause.

There are a number of reasons, which cause you to get acne in your adult years. You could get it when you are over 30 years, 40 years or even 50 years of age.

You may even get acne for the first time after the age of 50 years. This is typically seen in women during menopause. This is called “adult-onset acne”.

Stress and hormonal changes are the two most common causes for this late appearance.

Where can you get adult acne?

Adult acne can occur on any of the sites of the body, which are acne prone. You can get it on the forehead, cheeks, chin, around the mouth, on the neck, on the back, and on the buttocks.

What are causes of adult acne in men and women?

There are various reasons why you may get these skin eruptions during adulthood. The causes may be the usual causes or some unusual ones

They can include medical conditions, medications, hormonal reasons, or even mental stress. Let us explore them.

Adults who had acne during adolescence may find that the acne have reappeared in their later years. The cause for this reappearance is not known.

However, whatever be the cause, acne can be treated with medication. And, then again, there are natural remedies that can cure them. More importantly, if you do suffer from acne, be sure you prevent it from scarring.  


When you are emotionally stressed, your body responds by secreting more androgen hormone from the adrenal glands. This is the male sex hormone, testosterone.

This stimulates the sebaceous glands under the skin to secrete more sebum into the hair follicles. Sebum is an oily substance and any excess of it can block the hair follicles.

The hair follicles open onto the skin through the skin pores. The sebum, the dead skin cells and the bacteria which are normally present on the skin get trapped inside the blocked hair follicle.

This can clog the skin pores. The hair follicles get enlarged due to clogging and this is seen on the surface as a pimple. An outbreak of pimples is called acne.

Hormonal changes

Changes in the hormone levels in the body in adult females during periods, menopause or during pregnancy are three reasons why women get acne in adult years.

Starting birth control pills or stopping them can also cause adult acne in women, due to fluctuations in hormonal levels in the body.

Certain medications can cause adult acne

Certain medications like anabolic steroids, steroids (oral and topical), antiseizure drugs, anti-tuberculosis drugs rifampicin and isoniazid, lithium and medications containing iodine can cause acne in adults.

If you are taking these medicines and develop acne, you should consult your doctor who will give an alternate medication for your existing health condition.

Adult acne and PCOS

Another cause of acne in young adult women is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder.

Though it is not yet fully clear, it is believed to be the fallout of resistance to the hormone insulin.

In PCOS, acne which started during the teenage years continue even after the age of 25 years or acne can set in after the age of 25 years.

Acne, due to PCOS, are seen on the hormonally sensitive areas, which include the lower third of the face. You will see acne on the cheeks,  the area around the mouth, the jaw line, the chin, and the upper part of the neck.

Genetic causes of acne

If your father or mother had acne, it is more than likely that you will also develop it. As a matter of fact, if both parents had acne, three out their four children will develop acne.

Certain cosmetics

Certain hair preparations and face cosmetics, especially those that are oily in consistency, can cause you to get acne during adult years. While buying, examine the label to see if the product is non-acnegenic and oil-free.

Chronic physical friction on skin

If certain activities exert chronic physical pressure on the skin, you may develop acne on the concerned part of the body. This is called acne mechanica.

For example, chafing from wearing a helmet can cause acne to breakout on the forehead. An unwashed and tight-fitting chin strap too can cause acne to breakout on the chin.

If you drive a car daily for long periods, your back does not get the ventilation because it is in direct contact with the back of your seat. This can cause heavy sweating, which can clog the hair follicles on the back.

Pollution and hot weather

Pollution and high humidity are other factors that cause you to sweat profusely on the back and give rise to acne breakouts on the back.

Hot weather, too, can cause you to sweat and cause back acne and breakouts. Tight and nonporous clothing makes you more prone.

Exposure to chlorinated industrial chemicals

Chronic exposure to industrial chemicals like chlorinated dioxins can cause symptoms similar to acne.

Do certain foods cause adult acne?

The answer is NO. You could eat anything, even the greasiest of the foods, but that will not cause acne.

However, certain foods such as dairy products and foods with a high glycemic index may worsen an already condition.

But, it is always wise to eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains to have a healthy and glowing skin.

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