Adult acne: causes and solutions

Adult acne: causes and solutions

Adult acne: causes and solutions

Acne can occur in people of all ages - and what may have worked for you skin years ago may not be the cure your skin needs

Acne, though often considered a problem of adolescent years, affects a significant portion of the adult population. Whilst frustrating and often stubborn to treat, understanding the scientific underpinnings and cause of adult acne is crucial for effectively combating it. In this blog post, we'll delve into what adult acne is, what triggers it and the available treatments.

What is adult acne?

Adult acne is a dermatological condition characterised by the formation of inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions on the skin in adults, typically affecting individuals between the ages of 25 and 40. Symptoms of acne can appear on the face, neck, back, and chest, similar to teenage acne. The key distinction lies in its onset during adulthood.

What causes adult acne?

Understanding the causes of adult acne is essential to its management. While your direct cause may not be innately clear, the below can be a good indicator of some underlying causes. 

Hormonal fluctuations

Hormones play a significant role in adult acne. Decreased estrogen and elevated levels of androgens, such as testosterone, can stimulate sebaceous gland activity, resulting in increased sebum production that leads to acne.

Because our bodies have fewer female hormones to suppress the effects of the male hormones, the effects of those hormones become more evident. You may see an increase in oil production, and the oil produced by your face may be thicker. Your pores may look larger. This can lead to clogged pores and more acne.

Often, hormonal imbalance be triggered by a variety of factors like post pregnancy, the oral contraceptive pill, menopause, gut health, increased stress and anxiety or a reflection other underlying conditions. It's best to speak to a healthcare professional to better understand what is occurring internally. 


Your genetic makeup can also predispose you to adult acne. For example, if both parents struggled with adult acne symptoms, this can place you at a higher risk of developing acne as an adult too - however genetics can be unpredictable, so this may not always be the cause. 


Stress induces the release of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can lead to increased sebum production and inflammation. Stress can exacerbate existing acne or trigger its onset in some individuals. 


While scientific evidence is still evolving, certain dietary factors, like high-glycemic index foods and dairy products, may be the cause of adult acne. These foods can influence hormone levels and skin inflammation.

How to prevent adult acne

Though adult hormonal acne may not be entirely preventable, there are preventive measures you can take to help stop new spots from appearing and acne scars from forming.

Skincare routine

Prioritise gentle cleansing and using non-comedogenic skincare products can help prevent pore blockages. In general, avoid overly aggressive and harsh cleansers, especially if you’re already using a strong prescription topical ingredient. With dry and sensitive skin, a creamy cleanser may be a better option. For oily skin, a gentle, foaming cleanser may be better. For someone struggling with blackheads, products with salicylic acid can be helpful because it seeks out oil and unclogs pores. Benzoyl peroxide also has antibacterial properties and can help remove dead skin.

Hormone management

If hormonal fluctuations are a trigger for your acne, consult a healthcare professional. They may recommend hormonal contraceptives or anti-androgen medications to regulate hormone levels.

Stress reduction

Adopt stress management techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or exercise, to mitigate the effects of stress on your skin.

Dietary adjustments

While individual responses vary, some adults find relief by reducing their consumption of high-glycemic index foods and dairy products.

Adult acne treatment

Treatment options vary depending on the individual, which is why checking with a doctor or dermatologist will be best to ensure your treatment is tailored to you. However the below tips can help get you on the right track.

Topical treatments

Over-the-counter or prescription topical treatments containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids can be used to reduce inflammation and unclog pores.

Oral medications

In some cases, dermatologists may prescribe oral antibiotics or oral contraceptives to address hormonal imbalances contributing to acne. Additionally, non-prescription supplements can be a game-changing support in managing adult acne - like Vida Glow Clear, which is clinically proven to reduce symptoms of acne by 50%.

Cosmetic procedures

Procedures like chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or laser therapy may be beneficial for severe or scarring acne.

Lifestyle changes

Maintaining a balanced diet, practicing good hygiene, and managing stress can complement other treatments.


Introducing specific vitamins and minerals into your routine could be the missing link you've been looking for. These powerful nutrients have the potential to help restore your skin by addressing the issue from the inside out. Think vitamins C, E & A, Zinc, Nicotinamide, Pantothenic Acid and Selenium are key to look out for. 


Adult acne is a complex condition with multifaceted causes. Understanding the scientific basis of adult acne is the first step in effectively managing and preventing it. By adopting a holistic approach that combines proper skincare, hormonal management, and healthy lifestyle choices, you can take control of adult acne and enjoy clearer, healthier skin. If you're struggling with persistent adult acne, consulting a dermatologist is recommended to develop a tailored treatment plan based on your specific needs.



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