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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 Jun 07, 2021   -  4 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 it is also frustrating for the patients. Understanding the cause of adult acne helps establish a better strategy for preventing and treating adult acne.

Adult Acne: A Common Problem


Acne starts when oil and dead skin cells clog up your pores. Some people call it blackheads, blemishes, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts. However, acne breakout is usually considered to result from clogged pores, a buildup of sebum, and, most commonly, a bacterial infection.

What Are the Symptoms of Acne?

Blackheads will open at the surface of the skin, which gives it a black appearance due to the oxygen in the air. Whiteheads are closed just under the surface of the skin, which gives them a white appearance. Whiteheads and blackheads are the most common lesions seen in acne, but the other types can also occur. Inflammatory lesions can cause scarring of the skin. They include:

Acne is a common problem seen in teenagers. But, when it occurs in an adult, it is very frustrating. The Acne treatment, which worked in adolescence, can be useless or even worsen the condition. Many people may wonder, like 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.

Where Does Acne Usually Occur on the Face?

Adult acne commonly appears on the lower half of the face. But standard acne can occur anywhere on your face or body, whereas hormonal acne tends to show up in the same spots like pimples in your T-zone, plugged pores throughout your cheeks and forehead, and painful bumps that linger for weeks on your chin.

What Are the Various Reasons for Adult Acne?

  1. At the time of the period.

  2. During or after pregnancy.

  3. During perimenopause and menopause.

  4. While using hormonal birth control pills.

How Is Adult Acne Managed?

A detailed clinical evaluation including history, medication, cosmetic products, menstrual history, and family history is important. Also, assess any evidence of cutaneous hyperandrogenism like hirsutism, acanthosis nigricans, androgenic alopecia, and 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 abdomen ultrasound to rule out PCOS.

What Are the Treatment Options of Adult Acne?

  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: It includes oral contraceptive pills, androgen-blocking agents like Cyproterone acetate.

  5. Blue Light Therapy: This is a good method to prevent bacterial colonization, especially in 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.

Last reviewed at:
07 Jun 2021  -  4 min read




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