Adult Acne: Why Does It Happens And How To Manage It?

Do you find it hard to embrace your appearance or is hoping to change it? You also want to understand what triggers the breakouts, so really what causes adult acne, especially if someone has never dealt with troublesome skin before?

Airbrushing, social media an hour long gym session feels longer than a netflix hour long film, ouur brain really struggles to understand. Do you want to know one more think? Acne, as an adult. With the evenings of homework and super awkward interactions are behind us (well kind of), so what causes troublesome skin to cling on for as long as this whole pandemic, well into sufferers late 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or even beyond??

Let me start by saying, that there is nothing be ashamed of. I’m 27 and still stuffer from hormonal breakouts. Adult acne, is when acne is presenting in those who are aged 25 or older and is often caused by the same root issue as those who are in there teens. However, if it continues presenting itself well into adulthood, at which time it is expected that sebum (oil) production is meant to decrease and skin should naturally calm down. But with troublesome skin at any age, these spots can be extremely painful and very difficult to manage, despite skin poitivity all across social media and a huge shift toward loving your complexions.

But whether you are trying to embracing it or is hoping to change it, you probably still want to understand what actually tiggers breakouts. So really what causes adult acne, especially if someone who has never dealt with troublesome skin until now?

Extreme Close Up of Person's Face

This Information below is provided by Know Your Skin – British Skin Foundation Website

Our sebaceous (oil-producing) glands are affected by out hormones. In people who have acne, the glands are particularly sensitive, even to normal blood levels of these hormones. This causes the glands to produce too much oil. At the same time, the lining of the pores (the small holes in the skin’s surface) becomes thickened and dead skin cells are not shed properly. A mixutre of the oil (sebum) and dead skin cells build up and plugs the pores producing blackheads and whiteheads. The plug of dead skin turns black from exposure to air and not due to dirt. Diet, medication, lifestyle and environment can play a part in adult acne. Foods that contain high levels of sugar, whitebread, potatoes, white rice, have been known to cause or aggravate acne. Switching to a low GI (Glycaemic Index) diet could lead to fewer spots.

Sometimes acne can be caused by medication given for other health conditions or certain contraceptive injections or pills. Some tablets taken by body-builders contain hornomes that can tigger acne too.

Most acne sufferers have normal hormone level, if tested; however, acne can sometimes caused by a problem with hormones. The most common problem with hormones is polycystic ovarian syndromw in females – if you develop irregular periods, unusual hair growth or hair loss or other changes to ou body, mention this to you doctor in case it is relevant.

Acne can run in families, but many people with acne don’t have affected people in their family. It is likel that a combination of genetic, hormonal and lifestyle factors (such as diet, stress, skincare products,etc) act in combination to cause most acne.

This information is provided by British Association of Dermatologists

Self-care (What can you do?)

  1. Try not to pick or squeeze your spots as this usually aggravates them and may cause scarring and infection.
  2. If your self-cofidence has been affected by acne or if you are feeling destressed, it’s importatn to reach out to others for support. This includes friends, family members and support groups. You may also be able to access a counsellor through school, university or work.
  3. Let your GP or Dermatologist know if your acne is making you feel depressed or anxious. They will be able to speak with you about how you are feeling and help you to form a treatment plan, which may involve input from other specialists, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, if necessary.
  4. However your acne affects you, it’s important to take action to control it as soon as it appears. This helps to avoid permanent scarring and reduces embarrassment. If your acne is mild, it is worth trying over-the-counter preparations in the first instance. Ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can be helpful. Your pharmacist will advise you.
  5. Expect to use your treatment for at least two months before you see much improvement. Make sure that you understand how to use them correctly so you get the maximum benefit.
  6. Some topical treatments may dry or irritate the skin when you start using them. If your face goes red and is irrirtated by a lottion or cream, stop treatement for a few days and try using the treatment less often and the build up gradually.
  7. Make-up may help your confidence. Choose products that are labelled as being ‘non-comedogenic’ (should not cause blackhead or whiteheads) or non-acnegenic (should not cause acne).
  8. Cleanse your skin and remove make-up with a gentle cleanser and water, or an oil-free soap subsitute.
  9. Scrubbing too hard can irritate the skin and make your acne worse. Remember blackheads are not due to poor washing.
  10. Think about whether you get more spots after consuming high GI food or dairy. If something seems to consistently trigger a breakout, what happens when you don’t have that food or drink for a feww days, weeks or a month? Discuss with you doctor before you permanently cut out any foods from your diet as this can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Whilst diet may a role in casuing your spots, keeping your skin clear usuall requires more than a diet change.


The first and most important step is to educate yourself, learn about why out skin behave the way it does.


It’s comedones that are open at the surface of the skin and appearance dark in looks – hence them being called Blackheads. These occur when clog plug develops in the opening of the hair follicle. The black appearance occurs from the oxidation of build-up within the pore, but this is classed as a mild class of acne and can often be managed with the right skincare.

Cystic Acne

This is generally considered the most serious from of acne. It occurs to those with oily skin, which is mostl caused by combination of bacteria, oil and dry skin cells that is getting trapped within pores. Cystic acne often looks like boil underneath the skin and is usuall either white or red in appearance and can be incredibly painful and tender to touch. The cysts are typically filled with pus and whilst they mostly occur on the face, they can also be present on the back, chest, neck and shoulders.

Nodular Acne

This type of acne feels firm to touch in comparison to cystic acne but can also be extremely painful and occurs deeper underneath the skin’s surface. Nodular acne can be persistent and can take weeks or even months for these nodules to heal, as they are very stubborn once they are formed. It can be caused by overactive oil glands, an overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria and an increase in androgen hormones, which can therefore lead to more and thicker skin oil.

Acne Conglabata

It occurs whe acne cysts and nodules begin to grow together deep below the skin. This form of acne is very rare, but can still be serious because of the significant scarring that can follow. Through following a dermatologis’s advice and using combination of medication of topical treatments are recommended as these products are applied directly onto skin and will not be able to resolve this form of acne.

It really doesn’t matter what tyoe of acne your dealing with, but receiving expert advice and medical support in dealing with this complex condition is always recommended to find the perfect formula of skincare, lifestyle changes and potentially medication that work for you in managing breakouts.

OMG! Acne in adulthood can be so difficult and complex to deal with, but amongst the skincare remedies, lifestyle changes and medication options, it’s really important to hold slice of space for self love, compassion and acceptane for where you are atm and try to celebrate the beauy of your skin in all it’s forms. Fill your social media up with those who look like and respresent you, cement in your mind they your worth is not based on your appearance and also remind yourself often that real skin has pores, spots, redness, texture and everything in between. Real life doesn’t come with airbrush filter and i’m really glad that it doesn’t.


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