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Adult Acne: Why Are You Still Breaking Out In Your 30s, 40s, And Even 50s?

Adult Acne: Why Are You Still Breaking Out In Your 30s, 40s, And Even 50s?

Acne is not just a teenager's problem; it can affect people of any age. Some adults can get acne breakouts even in their 50s. Read to know more adult acne.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : July 28, 2022 11:11 AM IST

If you're in your 40s and still getting pimples, you're not alone. Acne can occur, not only in teenagers, but also in adults, and can go well into your 50s too. This is commonly known as adult acne!

To learn more about adult acne, including causes, types and prevention, we connected with a skin expert. Below Manasi Shirolikar, Consultant Dermatologist and Founder of Online Consulting Brand, tells us about adult acne.

Types of adult acne

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Adult acne can be of three types:

  • Mild Adult Acne: Consists of whiteheads, blackheads, and small pustules.
  • Moderate Adult Acne: Consists of papules that can cover anywhere between 1/4th to 3/4th of your face and body.
  • Severe Adult Acne: If there is intense redness, discolouration, swelling, irritation, and deep cysts, you have severe adult acne.

Causes ofadult acne

So, why does adult acne occur? According to the dermatologist, your acne could be caused by:

Fluctuating Hormone Levels

Predominantly seen in women, and the reason why acne is more commonly seen in women, fluctuating hormone levels play an important role when it comes to acne breakouts. Women mainly see the pimples arise either around their menstrual cycle, if they are going through menopause (or pre and post-menopause), or before they start or stop their birth control pills.


According to research, when you undergo stress or stressful events, your body produces more androgens (a type of sex hormone that maintains and regulates male characteristics and regulates the functioning of many organs). Androgens stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, thus causing more oiliness, which ultimately leads to acne breakouts.

Also, when you are stressed, anxious, or nervous, your adrenal glands produce more cortisol (the stress hormone). This in turn increases sebum production, which thus can increase acne!

Medication Side Effects

Certain medicines such as corticosteroids, lithium, anti-convulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids, DHEA, steroid inhalers, testosterone, birth control pills, and medicines that contain bromides or iodines can cause acne flare-ups, as a side effect.

Undiagnosed medical conditions

Underlying conditions, left undiagnosed, such as PCOS, Cushing Syndrome, CAH, Androgen Secreting Tumours, Acromegaly, Apert Syndrome, SAPHO syndrome, Beh et syndrome, and PAPA syndrome can cause adult acne.


Excessive drinking, smoking, binge eating, irregular diet patterns and erratic sleep schedules can cause a havoc on your system and show up as adult acne!

Family history and genetics

If your close, blood relatives, like your parents or siblings, have had acne or adult acne, the chances of you getting adult acne are higher, as sometimes adult acne can be genetic.

Skincare and haircare products

If your skincare and haircare products are comedogenic, chances are they can clog the pores on your skin, and cause acne. Products that are acnegenic and contain oil, can also lead to acne showing up, not just on your face, but also on your chest and your back.

Contact Irritation

Sometimes, if your skin comes in contact with harsh cleansers or if you shave dry skin, you can irritate your skin, which can flare up into acne.

Physical Stress

Change in weather, exposure to irritants in the air due to air pollution, illness, migraines, and dehydration are also some causes that can affect the body and lead to adult acne.

You can use OTC treatments such as Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid to treat your adult acne, but if it persists, it is advisable to visit a dermatologist who can put you on stronger, prescription-based pills and topical medications.

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