Dermatologists and Skin Care

Adult Acne: A Common Problem

Written by Dr. Sreelakshmi S and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Image: Adult Acne: A Common Problem

Acne is very common in the teenage group. But, when we have acne as an adult, it is very frustrating. The Acne treatment which worked in adolescent age can be useless or even worsen the condition. Many people wonder 'do adults get acne?'. Yes, adults can get acne. Some continue to get acne in their 30s and 40s. Some may get acne for the first time in their 30s' or even during the menopausal age. Women are more prone to get adult acne than men.

There Are Various Reasons for Adult Acne

1. Hormonal fluctuations.

This is usually seen in women. This type of acne tends to flare up around menstruation, during pregnancy, perimenopausal, or after starting or discontinuing oral contraceptive pills. Certain diseases like PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) can cause hormonal imbalance and acne.

2. Stress.

Stress can produce androgens, which can stimulate the sebaceous glands.

3. A family history.

Some people may have a genetic predisposition to acne. So, if they have close relatives with acne, they also have a chance to develop adult acne.

4. Cosmetic products.

Most of the cosmetic products contain comedogenic ingredients like lanolin, petrolatum, and vegetable oils, which can cause clogging of pores and acne. If you have acne-prone skin, make sure that the daily cosmetic products you use are non-comedogenic.

5. Medication.

Topical medicine containing steroids can produce acne. Certain oral medicines like antiepileptics and psychiatric medicines can also cause acne.

Management of Adult Acne

A detailed clinical evaluation including history, medication, use of cosmetic products, menstrual history, and family history is important. Also, assess for any evidence of cutaneous hyperandrogenism like hirsutism, acanthosis nigricans, androgenic alopecia, and also assess for any signs of virilization like clitoromegaly.

The investigations include a hormonal profile - FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), testosterone, blood sugar, lipids, and ultrasound of abdomen to rule out PCOS.


  1. Topical therapy - topical retinoid alone or combined with topical antibiotics.
  2. Systemic antibiotics - second-generation Tetracycline, or macrolides.
  3. Oral retinoids - Isotretinoin 0.25 mg/kg/day for six months, with adequate contraception to prevent pregnancy.
  4. Hormonal therapy - which includes oral contraceptive pills, androgen-blocking agents like Cyproterone acetate.
  5. Blu light therapy - it is a good method to prevent bacterial colonization, especially in those who are pregnant, lactating or want to conceive.

Maintaining good facial hygiene, eating healthy, exercising daily, and avoiding comedogenic cosmetics can help prevent the development of acne in adult life.

For more information consult an acne specialist online -->

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018



Do you have a question on Acne or Acne Vulgaris?
* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Related Questions & Answers

Acne - Causes, Types, Home Remedies and Treatment Strategy
Article Overview: Acne is a very common condition encountered among teens and adults. To decide the protocol for the treatment of acne, it is important for us to know the causes, conditions associated, sites of acne, the cause of acne and factors affecting the onset of acne. Many home remedies are helpful in treating acne. Mild and moderate acne can be treated with medication and severe acne with other treatment procedures. Prevention is more important than cure.  Read Article »
Dr. Archana

Acne is a very common skin condition. It commonly starts during puberty but can occur at any age. Although it is not a dangerous condition, acne can leave scars on the skin. Acne appears in different parts of the body like face, chest, and back. Acne affects almost all teenagers in different severit ...  Read Article »
Top 10 Questions on Acne
Article Overview: Acne vulgaris or what is commonly known as pimples starts in teens. It leads to the lowering of self-esteem, decreased work capacity and some form of permanent scarring. There is a huge misinformation among parents and patients about the disease, thus leaving them perplexed as to how to deal with it. In this article, I have gathered the top 10 questions on acne to help both parents as well as patients to guide them to make informed choices on the issue. These, however, are general guidelines and patients are advised to consult a qualified dermatologist for treatment.  Read Article »
Dr. Abdul Samieh Deva

What Is Acne? Acne is a disorder of pilosebaceous unit found in the skin. Sebaceous gland is often associated with a hair follicle and is known as a pilosebaceous unit. The most important lesion in acne is a comedone. Besides, papules, pustules, and nodules are also found. In common terms, these ar ...  Read Article »
What Is Acne Vulgaris?
Article Overview: Acne vulgaris is a common condition that usually starts in teenage years when sebaceous glands become active. However, acne can also occur in childhood and even in infancy, but it is rare.  Read Article »
Dr. Rabia

Acne vulgaris is a common condition that usually starts in teenage years when sebaceous glands become active. However, acne can also occur in childhood and even in infancy, but it is rare. Some individuals have an inherent tendency of having hyperactive sebaceous glands, this is one of the risk fact ...  Read Article »
Which medicine can be used to get rid of chicken-pox scars?
Query: Hello doctor, I am 18 years old. I had chicken pox before one and a half month. After the chicken box was gone, I had some scars. So I went to a dermatologist to give me a medicine to clear the scars, he gave me new gel E. I had some pimples on my forehead so he advised and wrote for me a face wash...  Read Full »
Dr. Gauri Kshirsagar

Answer: Hi, Welcome to Acne is a very common condition occurring in teenage years due to hormonal changes. There is no need to worry or be embarrassed by it. Chances are that even after treatment you may get another bout of acne. It will reduce with age.  Read Full »
Acne: Skin Care Tips and Treatment Options
Article Overview: Acne is the most common problem faced by teenagers which has a social as well as psychological impact. It is said that about 90 to 95 % of the world population would have suffered from acne at some point in their life. Acne is very common during 13 to 30 years of age. After 30 years of age, acne is considered as 'adult acne' which has strong hormonal influence.  Read Article »
Dr. Ashwini V Swamy

How Does One Develop Acne? Acne is a disorder of pilosebaceous unit, pilo meaning hair, and sebaceous meaning oil-producing gland. These pilosebaceous glands are densely distributed over the face, neck, chest, back, shoulder, and arms. It also has a genetic component, meaning the appearance/ severi ...  Read Article »

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Related Tags