What Causes Adult Acne & Blemishes?

Oct 13 , 2023

What Causes Adult Acne & Blemishes?

Though frustrating, it’s not uncommon to wonder, “why am I still getting acne in my 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond?” Dermatologists call this "adult-onset acne. It’s more common in women than men and always starts with a clogged pore which may be linked to one or more of the following causative factors:

  • Fluctuating hormone levels:

    Women often experience fluctuating hormones around their periods, during pregnancy, peri-menopause and menopause or after discontinuing (or starting) birth control pills. A hormone imbalance can trigger breakouts.
  • Stress:

    When we’re stressed, our bodies produce more androgens—a type of hormone that stimulates the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can lead to acne.
  • Family history:

    Don’t blame your parents, but research shows some people may have a genetic predisposition for acne.
  • Hair and skin care products:

    If you have adult acne, make sure your cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen are labeled non-comedogenic and oil-free so they don’t clog pores.
  • Medication side effect:

    Acne can be a side effect of some medicines. If you suspect that a medicine is triggering your acne or making it worse, continue taking the medicine—but talk to the doctor who prescribed it.
  • Undiagnosed medical condition:

    Sometimes, acne is a sign of an underlying medical condition. Once the medical condition is diagnosed and treated, the acne often clears.