Acne is more common in teenagers, but adult acne is an increasingly familiar experience. As we age, hormonal changes become less severe and frequent, but acne can still appear. Lifestyle factors, occupational hazards, genetic predisposition, and hormonal changes can all contribute to the development of adult acne. The key to treating these breakouts is to isolate their cause, then choose a product or ingredient that attacks the acne at its source.


Most adult acne manifests as blackheads and whiteheads, but some severe conditions only appear later in life. While you may have already developed a great skin care routine, this isn’t always enough to stop the occasional pimple or chronic breakouts. No matter your acne experience, working with a dermatologist at the Skin Care Center of Southern Illinois is a great step in the right direction.


Common Adult Acne Causes

Most adult acne causes mirror those that trigger teen acne. In most cases, blocked pores are the primary culprit. However, the way in which those pores become blocked can inform possible medication options. The following types of adult acne are mild and moderate, but they may still require the help of a doctor to treat.

  • Acne Mechanica: This common form of acne is the result of friction, either between skin or with fabric. Acne mechanica is common in adults who wear tight or ill-fitting clothing, participate in sports, or use razors against dry skin.
  • Acne Vulagris: Acne vulgaris, also known as hormonal acne, is the most common form of the condition. Hormonal changes and stress can cause oil glands to overproduce, which leads to excess sebum on the face. When combined with dead skin cells and bacteria, this can clog the pore and cause acne. Experiences like pregnancy, breastfeeding, postpartum, stress, and menopause can trigger oil overproduction. Some drugs, including lithium and corticosteroids, can also affect the sebaceous glands.
  • Acne Rosacea: While acne rosacea is not a type of acne, people with the condition develop acne-like lesions. Pimples that resemble acne may appear on the face, and they are sometimes filled with pus. Acne rosacea appears when small blood vessels in the face swell and become visible, resulting in swollen, red bumps. The condition typically appears in adults over 30 years old, and while there is no cure, a dermatologist can help manage symptoms.


Severe Adult Acne Conditions

While most adults with acne will experience mild to moderate cases, some forms of the condition are severe, requiring immediate and sustained medical attention.

  • Acne Conglobata: Acne conglobata is a severe form of acne that most often affects young adult women. The condition takes the form of interconnected lesions, which appear on the chest, face, thighs, buttocks, and upper arms. The highly inflammatory disease consists of nodules and abscesses, and many of the papules will be deeply set in the skin. This can lead to scarring. The condition generally begins between ages 18 and 30 and can persist for a very long time, typically disappearing when patients are in their 40’s.
  • Pyoderma Faciale: This serious skin condition is rare but difficult to live with. Pyoderma faciale most often occurs in women aged 20 to 40, and it begins abruptly. The condition appears as large, painful red nodules, pustules, and sores, especially concentrated on the cheeks, chin, and forehead. Though pyoderma facile does not often last for more than a year, these lesions can leave scars.

If you suspect you have acne conglobata or pyoderma faciale, visit a dermatologist immediately. Early treatment is key to mitigating symptoms, so the faster you see a doctor, the less severe your condition will be.


Recommended Adult Acne Treatments

Like teenage acne, most adult acne responds well to at-home treatment with over-the-counter products. Most products you’ll find at the pharmacy will include a combination of salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol at relatively low concentration levels. These ingredients are available as cleaners, creams, gels, and spot treatments. They work together to kill acne-causing bacteria and exfoliate the outermost layer of skin, minimizing the lesion’s appearance and preventing future breakouts.

Over-the-counter products are often enough to cure acne, but some pimples won’t respond to this treatment. When this happens, visit your dermatologist. A doctor can provide access to stronger, more effective medications. In some cases, the bumps on your face may not actually be acne, and a dermatologist can make this distinction. The only way to know is to visit a doctor.

If you have adult acne, it is important that you not touch, pick, or pop your pimples. This can push the inflammation deeper into the skin, resulting in a more severe form of acne that is prone to infection. If your acne does not respond well to topical treatments, talk to your dermatologist about scheduling an acne extraction.


Visiting a Doctor for Adult Acne

 Adult acne can be difficult to live with, but a dermatologist can help mitigate symptoms, clear skin, and prevent future breakouts. Don’t let breakouts interfere with the confidence you’ve worked so hard to achieve in adulthood. Find the adult acne treatment that works for you with a doctor from the Skin Care Center of Southern Illinois. Contact us to schedule your appointment today.