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Adult Acne: A Common Problem

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

Published on Jul 21, 2018 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  2 min read


Adult acne is more common nowadays with changes in lifestyle and the use of various cosmetic products. The treatment of adult acne is a challenge for many dermatologists and is also frustrating for the patients. Understanding the cause of adult acne helps establish a better strategy for the prevention and treatment of adult acne.

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 -->


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Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  2 min read




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