Why do adults get acne?

We tend to think of acne as a pubertal problem. But it often happens that a person becomes an adult, and the rash does not disappear anywhere. Papules and pustules, subcutaneous painful acne and blackheads still appear on the face from time to time . Let’s talk about why this is happening. 

Why do acne appear: hormones are to blame

Acne is a consequence of excessive activity of the sebaceous glands. There is so much sebum that the skin simply cannot cope with its withdrawal, as a result, the sebaceous glands become blocked, they become inflamed. In the enlarged pores, sebum becomes clogged; when oxidized, it becomes black. This activity of the sebaceous glands is due to the hormonal background. The reason is increased testosterone levels. And it happens not only during adolescence, but also in adulthood.

An increased level of free testosterone can be an individual feature or a consequence of pathology. In women, severe acne can often be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome.

In any case, with acne, it is worth taking an analysis for sex hormones and a biochemical blood test. Women definitely need to undergo an ultrasound of the pelvic organs with a targeted study of the ovaries.

Hyperandrogenism can be caused by:

  • hereditary factors;
  • pathologies of the thyroid gland;
  • hyperfunction of the adrenal glands and other reasons.


Many skin diseases, such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, are genetically determined. Doctors have long noticed that there is a hereditary predisposition to the development of acne. Even during puberty, those children whose parents had similar problems are more likely to suffer from acne. Scientists have found that several genes, including HLA-DRA, are responsible for the development of severe forms of acne. 

At the same time, the level of testosterone in the blood may be within the normal range, but skin receptors are too sensitive to androgens, and this feature is due to genetics.

One of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome

A woman’s life is divided into cycles. Endometrial changes, ovulation and menstruation are caused by cyclical hormonal changes. A few days before menstruation, many women experience a range of unpleasant symptoms:

  • thickening and soreness of the mammary glands;
  • mood swings;
  • bloating;
  • headache;
  • deterioration of the skin condition – rashes, acne, inflammation.

In this case, treatment is not required if the rash is single. In severe cases, acne treatment is required to preserve the skin’s barrier function and improve aesthetics. 

Improper nutrition

If there are no health problems, you should pay attention to nutrition. Adult acne can appear when the following products are abused:

  • sweets;
  • bakery products made from premium flour;
  • alcohol;
  • canned foods;
  • excessively salty and spicy foods.

Among other things, stress, lack of sleep, and inadequate hygiene affect the condition of our skin.

Drawing conclusions

Adult acne can occur for the following reasons:

  • hormonal imbalance, hyperandrogenism;
  • heredity;
  • diseases of the thyroid gland, adrenal glands;
  • premenstrual syndrome;
  • unbalanced diet rich in fast carbohydrates;
  • stress, insomnia, psycho-emotional stress;
  • bad habits;
  • improper and insufficient skin cleansing.

Skin is a reflection of inner health. If acne persists in adulthood, it is worth approaching the examination of the body in a comprehensive manner. Only then can you find the true cause and eliminate it. The treatment of dermatological diseases, including acne, should be dealt with by a doctor who will draw up an individual therapy plan. 

event_note September 15, 2021

account_box Dr. Peter B Milburn

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