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

This article explores what acne is, what causes it, and how it manifests. It will also look at several treatment options, including natural remedies and prevention strategies.

Acne is a shared Inflammatory skin conditions affect about 50 million Americans annually. It usually begins during puberty but can occur at any stage in life and can continue into adulthood. Doctors may also refer to adult acne as adult-onset acne or teenage acne.

It usually develops when oil and dead skin cells clog the pores of the skin, leading to the development of lesions commonly known as boils or boils.

Various types of acne can appear all over the body. Acne usually develops on the face, but it can also appear on the back, chest, and shoulders.

Although acne is more common in adolescence, acne can continue to occur into a person’s 30s, 40s, and 50s. Some people may even develop acne for the first time as adults. The study also notes that adult acne is more common in women.

The American Academy of Dermatology says that the most common causes of adult acne include the following.

Hormonal changes

Similar to the leading cause of teenage acne, hormonal imbalances can lead to acne. Many factors can alter hormone levels, including:


When under stress, some people develop breakouts, which may be because the body produces more androgens in response. These hormones can stimulate the oil glands in the skin, causing acne.

Family history

Some evidence suggests that some people may have a genetic predisposition to acne. This means that if a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, has acne, that person is more likely to develop acne in adulthood.


Some hair and skin care products may contain substances that can worsen acne-prone skin. Using them can lead to breakouts. As a result, people may want to consider only using products that are labeled as:

  • noncomedogenic
  • does not cause acne
  • free oil
  • Won’t clog pores

Side effects of medications

Some medications can cause acne as a side effect. If a person suspects their medication is causing their acne, they should continue taking the medication but consider discussing alternative treatment options with their doctor.

Medications that can cause acne can include hormonal drugs, antidepressants, B vitamins, halogens, and anti-seizure medications.

Undiagnosed medical conditions

In some cases, adult acne can be caused by a pre-existing medical condition, so treating the condition can often clear up acne. For example, people with Polycystic ovary syndrome often develop acne in adulthood due to fluctuations in their hormone levels.

The symptoms of adult acne are often similar to the symptoms of acne at any age. With acne, people may notice:

  • whiteheads
  • blackhead
  • papules, pustules, or both
  • nodules, cysts, or both

Treating adult acne can be similar to treating acne in younger people. These may involve topical acne medications and look at potential causes such as an underlying condition, certain medications, stress, and any beauty or skin care products that a person may be using. user.

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

  • benzoyl peroxide
  • retinoids, such as adapalene gel
  • salicylic acid

If OTC products don’t work, your doctor may prescribe stronger treatments. They may include:

  • prescription-strength retinoids, such as topical tretinoin or oral isotretinoin
  • antibiotics, such as tetracycline
  • antigens, such as oral contraceptives or spironolactone

It’s worth noting, however, that it can take 4–6 weeks to start to notice the effects of acne treatments. In some cases, it can take 2-3 months for the acne to go away completely.

Currently, there isn’t much scientific evidence that natural remedies can calm adult acne. However, proponents claim that the remedies have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties can help acne treatment.

For example, a Review 2016 shows that compounds found in tea can help reduce sebum secretion and treat acne. ONE Research 2018 have also shown that tea tree oil and aloe vera may be beneficial for treating acne scars and reducing acne severity. However, more research is still needed to prove the effectiveness of these natural products.

A 2020 review also found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can improve acne.

Click here to learn more about natural remedies for acne.

To try and prevent any potential breakouts in adults, people can try to avoid any triggers that can trigger breakouts and stick to a skin care routine. This could, for example, involve avoiding certain face or skin cleansers, such as those not labeled as hypoallergenic. People can also try to control their stress levels by practicing yoga, mindfulness, or breathing exercises.

In addition, individuals should also follow their dermatologist’s advice and continue to use products or medications as recommended by their doctor.

People with acne-prone skin may want to consider the following tips:

  • wash twice a day and after sweating
  • Use products that are gentle on the skin
  • Gently use fingertips to apply non-abrasive cleaner
  • avoid or reduce skin rubbing
  • Rinse with warm water
  • Avoid pimples – let the skin heal naturally
  • avoid touching your face

Adult acne can be very frustrating. If a person finds that over-the-counter medications aren’t working, they can talk to their doctor about stronger treatments. Note that it can take up to 6 weeks to see the potential benefits of over-the-counter acne treatments.

If underlying conditions are causing the acne, once diagnosed and treated, the acne will usually subside. If a person suspects that any medication they are taking may be causing their acne, they should not stop taking it. Instead, they might consider discussing their concerns with their doctor and asking about alternative medications.

Acne is a skin disorder that is common among teenagers, but it can also affect adults. Although it can occur at any age, it seems to affect women more often than men. Acne usually occurs when oil and dead skin clog pores, leading to pimples. Common causes of adult acne include hormone fluctuations, stress, and certain skin or beauty products.

Using a combination of over-the-counter acne treatments, natural products, and a good skin care routine can help clear up breakouts. However, it can take up to 6 weeks to see any benefits. If acne does not improve, people can consult a doctor, who can prescribe stronger treatment options.


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