What causes adult acne to develop?

Acne occurs when the skin’s pores become clogged. Glands connected to the pores produce an oily substance called sebum, which carries dead skin cells to the surface. When oil, dead skin and hair clump together, bacteria forms and a pimple grows.

There are different factors that can cause and contribute to adult acne.

Stress. When responding to stress our bodies produce more androgens, types of hormones that stimulate the oil glands



and hair follicles in the skin. This can lead to acne.

Changes in hormone levels. Fluctuating hormone levels can cause acne outbreaks. Women commonly develop acne during pregnancy or menopause as well as when switching, stopping or starting birth control pills.

Medications. Acne can be a side effect of some medicines including corticosteroids, antiseizure drugs and lithium, which is used to treat mental illness.

Family history. Studies suggest that people who have a genetic predisposition to acne may seem more likely to develop it as an adult.

Hair and skin products. If you experience adult acne, check the labels on your hair and skin products. Those that contain the following terms are less likely to cause acne:

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Non-acnegenic
  • Oil-free
  • Won’t clog pores

Medical condition. Sometimes acne can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

How is adult acne treated?

The goal of treating acne is to reduce the problems that cause it to develop in the first place. These problems include:

  • Clumping of dead skin cells in the follicles
  • Excessive production of oil
  • Bacterial infections caused by the build up of cells, hairs and oil
  • Inflammation

The goal when treating acne is to heal the current condition, stop new outbreaks from occurring and prevent permanent scarring and blemishes.

Treatment options are available over-the-counter or by prescriptions. OTC treatments work better for patients with mild to moderate acne. If you suffer from chronic or sever acne, prescription medications may work better.

Treatments are administered topically or orally. Topical treatments include lotions, gels, creams or soaps. Oral medication options may include antibiotics, contraceptive pills and isotretinoin (a medicine used specifically to treat acne). It’s important to allow time for treatments to work. It may be six to eight weeks before you notice any change.

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