Did you make it safely through puberty, never once having a disconcerting breakout of acne in your teenage years? Do you now suddenly find yourself faced with pimples and zits in your late 20s and onwards? Then you can now count yourself as a sufferer of the dreaded adult acne. 

Adult acne, defined as acne that develops after the age of 25, can be a continuation of the acne we experience in adolescence or it can be brand new for those of us who did not have acne-prone skin as teens. Although it may be frustrating to suddenly develop (or continue to get) acne breakouts during adulthood, there is information out there to help you help your skin.

So why do you suddenly find yourself with acne as an adult?

Acne vulgaris

Acne vulgaris is the most common form of acne. This is caused by hormonal changes that occur as you age, with the key culprits being menopause, postpartum, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Additionally, physical and emotional stress can produce a similar change in hormones. When this happens, the oil glands overproduce, creating excess sebum. When combined with dirt, this substance can clog hair follicles, resulting in acne vulgaris. Some medications, like corticosteroids and lithium, can also cause acne vulgaris.

Acne mechanica

This form of acne occurs as a result of friction on the skin, creating an acne breakout. You may experience acne mechanica if you wear tight clothing, engage in cardiovascular exercise that can cause chaffing when your skin and clothing rub against each other, or if you use shaving razors on dry skin.

Acne conglobata

This is a severe form of adult acne that produces nodules, comedones, and abscesses. The condition typically begins between ages 18 and 30 and persists for several years, usually resolving when you reach your 40’s. This form of acne presents as interconnected lesions, especially on the chest, face, thighs, upper arms, and buttocks. Although the cause is unknown, it is associated with testosterone and can also be caused by the use of anabolic steroids.

Dry skin

Often, people with adult acne resort to more rigorous cleansing and exfoliating, which does nothing but worsen your outbreak. Many adults think their outbreaks have to do with oily skin, hence the over-zealous cleansing regimen, however, you must not forget that as your skin ages, it begins to dry out. To combat this, your skin will produce more oil and sebum, going above and beyond the necessary amount. Resulting in oily skin that breaks out into acne. The first and easiest step in fixing this is to moisturise! 

Stressed out?

While stress alone isn’t the cause of adult acne, it can definitely make it worse. Stress can be a top acne trigger because it stimulates excess oil production and hormonal fluctuations, as well as impairing the skin’s ability to heal. Chronic stress can affect the duration of acne breakouts – meaning those annoying zits hang around longer and make them more likely to result in scarring. What can you do about your stress levels? You can start practicing stress-reduction techniques such as meditation and exercise more frequently (two research-proven stress killers). 

Are hair products to blame?

If you suffer from breakouts along your forehead and hairline, it could be triggered by hair products. Products that contain large quantities of oil or coating ingredients (think hairspray), it can contribute to the appearance of acne on the upper part of your forehead and the back of your neck. 


Pollution has a significant effect on your skin. It can block your pores, leaving skin congested and causing aggravated acne. It can also dehydrate your skin, irritate and exacerbate any existing conditions such as redness, rosacea, and eczema. To combat the effects of pollution, look for anti-pollution products that help create a protective barrier for your skin. 

Junk food and sugar

If you notice that after eating a certain food you suffer from a breakout, stop eating it! Some of the most commonly associated foods with acne breakouts are sugar and other forms of processed junk food. 

Adult acne treatment

#1 Prescription medication

One way to get rid of adult acne is a prescription skin care regimen. You can consult a dermatologist or an online prescription treatment provider, such as Qr8 MediSkin, and they will prescribe a customised product specific to your type of acne. This will be the best option if you have severe acne. It may take time, but it is worth it to have clear skin again. 

The emergence of the internet has made the process of getting a prescription for your acne much easier and more efficient than ever before. Gone are the days when you had to wait to see a dermatologist to get your medication. Not only do they ensure that your unique situation is accounted for, but they also provide their products at affordable prices.