What Causes Adult Acne Breakouts?

My dermotologist cannot give me an answer to why I started acne at age 19 and since. I have a very light complexion. Never, not even as a teenager, had I ever had acne problems. I started growing this horrifying monster acne at age 19 only in the cheek area toward my neck. No other place in my face or body. I'm scarred with tiny and also huge red dark spots. Once a year, I break out in this nightmare way. Once a year I must go see my dermotologist. What causes adult acne breakouts?

Doctor Answers 5

Adult acne cause

There are very few things more frustrating than to have had clear skin, and then to develop acne "out of the blue". Many factors go into the development of acne, including genetic infuences, hormonal influences, sometimes weather and ultraviolet radiation. In some situations, there are persons who have hormonal abnormalities, such as Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease, that are associated with intractable acne. I refer some of my female patients with stubborn acne, to their gynecologist for a hormonal evaluation.

Chicago Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Acne in adults can have many causes

Acne in adults may be caused by by many reasons.  Some patients are genetically predisposed to acne.  It tends to run in some families and can be more stubborn.  Other types of acne are more hormonal and tend to be more easily treated with birth control medications.  An adult should be examined by a board certified dermatologist.  There is no acne that cannot be treated with the current plethora of medications and treatments available.

Adult acne - a growing problem

Adult acne is very common, especially in womon. It is unclear why acne is increasing in adults, but it may have to do with hormones, estrogens specifically, that are in our foods and air. Hormones are definitely involved. The treatment is very similar to treatment of teenage acne and lots of options exist for our patients.

Gary Goldenberg, MD
New York Dermatologist

Adult Acne

Acne is an extremely common skin condition that can occur at any point in any person’s life—from the teenage years through to middle age. Acne is, very simply, a clogged pore (or hair follicle) that can appear anywhere on the skin: the face, the back, the shoulders, the chest, and even the arms or legs. Pores can get clogged with a mix of dead skin cells and sebum (the oily substance produced by the oil glands that helps keep our skin from drying out).
While typically these dead skin cells rise to the surface of the skin to become sloughed off, in the case of a pimple, the dead skin cells stick together and become trapped in the pore. Sweat and dirt can also become part of the mix. When bacteria, which normally live on the skin, enter the pore, the result is an infected red, swollen, inflamed pimple or cyst. Sometimes these oil glands can go into overdrive, producing excess amounts of oily sebum. (The rate of sebum production is controlled by hormones.) This is common during the teenage years or during times of hormonal fluctuations (e.g. during menstruation, pregnancy, and even menopause). Oily skin is considered a skin type. Acne has also been known to run in families and can sometimes occur in dryer skin types. With the latest advances in acne—all available at our practice—there’s no reason for anyone to suffer from acne anymore. We work with each individual patient to customize a treatment plan that targets his/her acne.

Dennis Gross, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Causes of Acne in Adults

Adults may also suffer from acne. Flares and inflammatory acne lesions may develop in situations of stress, also from occlusion and trapping of sweat on the skin surface (at the gym, at the beach, from excessive sunscreen application), poor facial cleansing and some foods (typically chocolate and fatty meals).

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.