What causes adult acne- know from a dermatologist (Dermatocare's beauty tips)

Written By Dr Surbhi, MD Skin

Last updated: 03/10/18

"Doctor, what causes adult acne? Why do pimples do not settle at this age? Do I need hormonal treatment?"    Did you know that simple change in lifestyle, recognising the cause, using the right kind of skin care regime and home remedies can help you getting rid of adult acne?

All you need is the right guidance, this book is like a dermatologist guide to treating acne, “Acnefied- the war against acne begins here!” This article is part of this book; now, let us understand what causes adult acne.

What is Adult acne?

Teen acne occurs due to hormonal changes, should ideally settle once hormones stabilise around 25 years of age. However, if you continue to get acne beyond 25 years old, it is termed as adult acne. This entity is different from teen acne because the presentation, cause and treatment differ.

Check out: Dermatocare Reviews on Top Anti-acne Skincare Products

How does Adult acne present itself?

Adult acne either present itself as the continuation of pimples beyond 25 years of age (called as persistent acne) or pimples might appear at the later age after the initial resolution post-adolescence (called as late onset acne). In both the cases, patients get large red or pus-filled pimples mostly around their mouth, jawline and chin. These pimples usually appear around your dates and might take long to settle.

What causes adult acne?

Around 15% to 40% adults still have acne beyond 25 years of age, but only those with underlying precipitating factors (listed below) can certainly hope for a chance of cure:

  1. Hormonal imbalance: Increase in male hormones in females due to diseases like Polycystic ovarian syndrome, ovarian tumours, obesity, adrenal or pituitary gland diseases, etc. might lead to the formation of acne. These females will usually also have other features of hormonal imbalance like menstrual irregularities, hair loss from the scalp, increase hair growth on face and body, weight gain, infertility, etc.
  2. Acne cosmetics: Certain ingredients like isopropyl myristate, cocoa butter, oils, etc. in cosmetics lead to acne mostly on the lower half of face and chin.
  3. Body builders acne: With increased use of anabolic steroids at the gym or by sports persons there is an upsurge in pimples especially at chest and at the back in young males. Other serious side effects can occur in your heart and liver; even psychiatric problems can also occur with use of such preparations.
  4. Frictional acne: Use of high necks, scarves or even supporting your face with hands can lead to acne in the lower half of face.
  5. Drug-induced acne: Certain drugs most commonly steroids, oral contraceptive pills, phenytoin, danazol, isoniazid, lithium, vitamin B12, iodides and bromides can lead to pimples, but the good news is that pimples usually fade once the medicine is stopped.
  6. Occupational acne: Handling of greasy products like greases, tar, heavy oils, etc. can lead to acne.
  7. Hot and humid weather: Acne can also be precipitated due to heat and humidity in the case of females who cook in hot weather.
  8. Wrong skin care regime: Like the use of occlusive and thick creams, over exuberant washing of face, excessive rubbing of the face with the towel, over scrubbing of the face, facials in parlours, etc. For dermatologist assisted regime tailored to your skin type and concerns, please answer few simple questions about your skin.

Does diet rich in fat increase pimples?

The food with high glycemic index (that is with high sugar content) can increase acne. Similarly, whole fat milk has been implicated. Diet rich in fibre and low in saturated and trans-fats is good for your skin, and heart too. So, increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, toned milk, green tea, fish oils, seafood versus fried and fast food. Read this article for details.

When should I visit my Dermatologist?

Since acne in adults might be an indicator of the underlying medical cause, dermatologist visit is recommended in all the cases to rule out the root cause and for treatment.

How to treat Adult acne?

Treatment will depend on the severity of acne; your dermatologist might prescribe you:
  • Topical Benzoyl peroxide to be applied at night on pimples; this medicine is especially effective in reducing large red pimples.
  • Topical retinoid is prescribed less commonly because it is more efficient for black/white heads which, rarely occurs in adult onset acne.
  • Oral or topical antibiotics are given for red or pus-filled lesions.
  • Hormonal medicines may be prescribed in females with deranged hormone levels. However, your dermatologist might start hormonal medicine in the absence of deranged laboratory parameters because in some cases the androgen receptors on oil glands are hyper-responsive to normal levels of the hormone.
  • Oral Isotretinoin is given in lower doses, only if regular treatment is not working or if you have severe acne.

It is very important to be patient when it comes to the response of pimples; they take time to settle even with the medicines.


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