Causes of Adult Acne

You’ve waited patiently (or rather impatiently) through your teenage years for clear skin, only to find that breakouts don’t end in your 20s. Or worse yet, maybe you had clear skin in your youth and now all of the suddenare experiencing adult-onset acne. You’re not alone. In fact, “some adults continue to get acne well into their 30s, 40s, and even 50s” (source). Knowing the causes of adult acne can help you keep breakouts at bay.

Young woman popping a pimple on her cheek

Causes of Adult Acne

Fluctuating Hormone Levels

Hormonal fluctuation is one of the biggest and most complex causes of adult acne. Varying levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are the main culprits. When these hormone levels change, oil production typically increases. This can cause clogged pores where acne bacteria grows, leading to inflammation and pimples. Not surprisingly, women tend to get adult acne more often than men do. That’s because menstrual cycles, birth control, pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause all cause hormones to fluctuate. Especially if it runs in the family, it’s not uncommon for women to suddenly get acne even after their childbearing years.


Ah, yes. Stress can lead to acne by signaling the release of cortisol, a hormone that tells your body to produce more pore-clogging oil. This explains why acne can be an ongoing problem when we find ourselves under constant stress.

Skin-Care and Hair-Care Products

If you’re having trouble with adult acne, your skin-care or hair-care products might be to blame. Read the labels to make sure a label like non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, oil-free, or won’t clog pores is listed on the bottle. Products with these terms are the least likely to cause acne. Check your moisturizer, cleanser, sunscreen, and other beauty products. It’s important to know your skin type and learn which products work best for you.


Certain types of foods are known to cause inflammation in the body and skin, which can lead to breakouts. “This occurs [most often] with foods high on the glycemic index, high in sugars and carbohydrates that spike your insulin levels,” (source). Some studies have even found a link between dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt, and pimples (source). Just because you eat these foods, that doesn’t mean you will develop blemishes. However, diet is one of the causes of adult acne.

Medication Side Effect

Unfortunately, acne can be a side effect of some medicines. If you think a medicine is triggering your acne or making it worse, continue taking the medicine as prescribed, but talk with your doctor. Ask if acne is a possible side effect. You might be able to try a different medicine. If you cannot, you may want to consider seeing a dermatologist who can help you control the acne.

DermaHealth’s Solutions

Everyone’s skin type and body chemistry are different. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to controlling acne. At DermaHealth Laser & Skin Care Clinic, our experienced dermatologists can help find a solution that works for you. We offer a full line of active acne treatments and acne scar treatments for both men and women. Our specialists can treat , , , cystic acneclogged pores, and sebaceous hyperplasia. If you still have questions about what could be causing your adult acne, contact us today. Feel free to give us a call at 417-447-7777 orschedule a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Causes of Adult Acne

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