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I’m Not a Teenager. How Am I Still Getting Acne?

When it comes to cosmetic dermatology, acne is one of the most commonly treated conditions. Even in adults! If you’re getting adult acne and you’re not sure why, here’s what you need to know.


Why Do Adults Get Acne?


Hormone Imbalances

Much like adolescent acne, adult acne is caused by hormone fluctuations. When your hormones are out of balance, it can lead to side effects like pH imbalance, inflammation, differences in circulation, or excessive production of oil (sebum) on the skin. As a result, you may experience acne flare-ups. For those who menstruate, hormonal birth control can be a viable acne treatment option to curb hormone imbalance. Topical salicylic acid treatments can also be used to help keep the pores clear and free of excess sebum. If you’re looking for additional treatment options, it could be worth considering a chemical peel to help reduce clogged pores.

Contact Irritation

Contact dermatitis is a common skin rash, and unfortunately, it can also take the form of an acne flare-up. Any skincare product or other substance that irritates the skin may result in an acne flare-up. The key is to identify specific substances that act as triggers for your acne and eliminate them as quickly as possible from your daily life.

High-Stress Levels

Stress can have some incredibly negative effects on the body. Unfortunately, acne is one of them. If you notice that your acne flare-ups are typically preceded by prolonged periods of fear, anxiety, frustration, and exhaustion, then it’s possible high-stress levels could be the culprit. When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce cortisol, which can result in skin imbalances and acne flare-ups. If possible, the best treatment option here is to take some time and try to mitigate your stress levels. If you can remove whatever is stressing you out from the equation, then your acne may clear up on its own.

Bacteria Growth

Another common cause of adult acne is bacteria growth on the skin. A bacteria called Propionibacterium can often cause acne when present on and under the skin if it builds up. If bacteria growth is the main cause of acne flare-ups for your skin, then it’s possible to invest in blue light therapy to kill any bacteria living on the surface of your skin. Topical antibiotics may also be used as treatment if you’re experiencing a bacterial infection on your skin.


Some medications have been found to contribute to the development of adult acne. Some of the most common medications linked to adult acne include corticosteroids, certain antidepressants, and some epilepsy treatments. In this instance, you may need an acne medication specifically designed to combat this type of acne. It’s also possible that you need to change your treatment plan for another underlying condition to get rid of your acne woes.

Dealing with adult acne is no walk in the park. If you want to know how to avoid acne scars or have questions about treatment options, set up a consultation with our team at North Pacific Dermatology today and we can help!

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