While people tend to think acne only happens to teenagers, adult acne is very common. In fact, some people experience adult acne but never had acne during adolescence, while others experience acne from adolescence through adulthood, without much of a break between if any at all. Many of the same causes of adolescent acne continue to be causes in adult acne, while other causes are more specific to adult-related activities.

Stress Exposure

By now, you have heard over and over about how detrimental excessive stress is to your overall well-being. Too much stress throws your body and mind into a chaotic state. In addition to potential heart risks, mood changes, and other physical symptoms, too much stress can affect your skin too. There is a direct correlation between excessive stress and increased hormone production, which in turn triggers the excessive oil production that can lead to acne breakouts.

Hormone Changes

Hormones, while necessary, cause a wide range of issues including acne. Hormone changes in adolescence are well-known causes of acne, but there are also hormonal fluctuations that occur in adulthood as the body ages. Additionally, women may experience breakouts as their hormones fluctuate around their menstrual cycle, after starting or stopping birth control, when they get pregnant, or when they hit menopause. The excess oil causes pores to clog and becomes prime real estate for bacterial growth.


As an adult, what you eat has more of an effect on your body than it did as a teen. You know that weight management takes more effort. You cannot eat the same way you did as a teen. In addition to increasing weight, diets that are full of refined carbohydrates may be triggering your adult acne. Not all junk foods affect everyone the same, but if you indulge in more sweets and greasy snacks and notice more acne, that could be a trigger for you.

Skin Products

Moisturizers and sunscreens are important tools for healthy skin. Unfortunately, they can also be causing your adult acne. These skin products, as well as others, can be clogging pores or causing aggravation that is leading to acne breakouts. It’s important to find the right kind of skin care products for your type of skin. Doing so can help reduce breakouts.


In your efforts to take better care of your skin, you may actually be the cause of your own adult acne, specifically in over-cleansing your skin. You may be too aggressive. Your cleansing products may be to blame as can the frequency of washing. If your skin becomes irritated from a harsh cleaning regimen, it might break out. Normal to oily skin types should only be cleansing twice a day, using gentle cleansers and gentle light moisturizers. Sensitive and dry skin types should reduce that to once a day.


The air is your enemy—or rather what is in the air. Dirt, microscopic debris, and UV rays all pose a threat to your skin and can cause adult acne. Essentially, every time you step outside, your face gets pelted with a hodgepodge of junk from the air. Moisturizers and sunscreens provide a protective barrier, but using too much or the wrong kind can be problematic. Light moisturizers that contain UV protection are often a better choice.

Over-the-counter acne products and extra care can often be enough to curtail adult acne, but if these products fail you may need to seek help from a dermatology clinic. Many products available at your local drug store may not be the right formula or contain the right ingredients. In some cases, your adult acne may not respond to those common treatments. A dermatology professional can help you figure out what specific triggers are causing your adult acne and can prescribe a treatment plan for them.

Adult acne can be annoying. It is often more problematic to address than adolescent acne because it tends to cause breakouts under the skin. Regulating your diet, using gentle cleansing, removing makeup properly, and reducing stress are all efforts that can help eliminate breakouts. When adult acne is more stubborn and does not seem to respond to traditional methods, seeking help from a dermatologist is the best option.

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