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What is adult acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that is usually associated with teenagers. In this age group, acne is often caused by a change in hormone levels and in particular that of testosterone.

Tagged: Facial Treatments

What is adult acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that is usually associated with teenagers. In this age group, acne is often caused by a change in hormone levels and in particular that of testosterone. However, acne is not just a condition that is faced by those going through puberty: adult acne (classed as acne in anyone over the age of 25) is also a common skin condition. In fact, across the world, the prevalence of adult acne makes it the 8th most common skin condition. It is a condition that has become more common over the last 20 years and is said to affect 85% of females and 15% of males.

Adult acne can be mild, moderate, or severe and usually affects the face, chest, and back. The severity will be an important factor when it comes to considering adult acne treatment options. Here is a brief overview of what people can experience when it comes to adult acne:

Mild cases of adult acne can see people experiencing whiteheads, blackheads, and small pustules. Pustules are small white bumps that are surrounded by red skin.

If a case of adult acne reaches a moderate case, it becomes common for papules to cover around a quarter to 3 quarters of a sufferers face. A papule is a raised area of skin that is usually less than 1cm in size and can present in a variety of shapes and colours.

A severe case of adult acne can see extreme redness as well as swelling and irritation. It is also possible to suffer from deep cysts. 

Fortunately, there are adult acne treatments that are available and effective regardless of the severity of an outbreak.

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What causes acne for adults?

There is a distinct crossover when looking at the causes of adult acne and that experienced by teenagers. The common factors that are present in both include:

  • Excessive oil production
  • Clogged pores
  • Bacteria
  • Inflammation

Aside from these factors that share common features with teenage acne, adult acne can also be triggered by other events and experiences such as:

Fluctuating hormone levels can be a cause of adult acne. Both male and female hormones can lead to excessive production of oil (sebum), as well as an imbalance in Ph levels. Hormones levels can vary as part of ageing, but in females, there are other influencing factors such as:

  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding

Anything that comes into contact with skin and causes irritation can lead to adult acne. This is due to the fact that irritation can lower the defences of your skin and lead to inflammation. Possible causes of irritation could be shaving or the use of certain facial products.

When we are feeling stressed our bodies react by releasing more of the stress hormone, cortisol. Prolonged periods of extreme stress can cause an imbalance in our bodies and this can ultimately lead to adult acne.

Factors such as weather conditions, lack of sleep, and a period of illness can all upset the balance of hormones in bodies as well as weakening the immune system. This can then lead to an outbreak of acne. 

There is a link between family history and the likelihood of a person suffering from acne. Certainly, if a person's parents have suffered from acne, there is a greater chance of that person also suffering from the condition. 

Does adult acne go away on its own?

Many people who consider adult acne treatment are often curious if this is necessary or if adult acne will go away on its own. Research shows that acne becomes less common after the age of 44, and in women, it is much less prevalent after menopause. So while the evidence suggests that this is an issue that can resolve itself, there are other factors that are worth considering when deciding whether or not treatment is necessary.

Adult acne can take different forms in terms of how it presents. Some forms give a greater risk of scarring than others. This is worthy of consideration when looking at adult acne treatments versus waiting for the condition to resolve itself. The ways that adult acne can present include:

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Papules
  • Pustules
  • Nodules
  • Cysts

When considering the severity of adult acne it is cysts that pose the greatest risk. They are also responsible for causing a greater degree of pain and discomfort. A cyst is pus-filled and resembles a boil in appearance. Leaving these untreated means that there is an increased possibility of scarring. 

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What is the best treatment for adult acne?

For those considering adult acne treatment, it is common for those suffering from the condition to want to know which treatment is the best and most effective. The fact of the matter is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach as the type and severity of acne will influence the type of treatment that is most suitable.

At Cadogen, there is a team of 9 specialist dermatologists who treat thousands of cases of adult acne every year. The start of any treatment programme involves a consultation so that it can be established where a patient is and what they are hoping to achieve. For many, adult acne treatment becomes the desired way to deal with this condition rather than waiting for it to resolve itself. Treatment can leave patients with clearer skin, reduced levels of stress, improved confidence, and a lower risk of permanent scarring. 

When it comes to mild to severe cases of acne, treatments available include:

  • Topical creams and gels
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Oral contraceptive pills
  • Prescription medicines such as Isotretinoin 

In addition to these treatments, cosmetic treatments also exist that can target adult acne as well as any scarring that has been caused. The cosmetic treatments offered include:

  • Chemical facial peels
  • IPL skin rejuvenation
  • Laser rejuvenation
  • Microneedling/dermapen 

Once you have been assessed by one of our specialists a full adult acne treatment plan can be devised. Such plans are tailored to the individual and only the most effective and suitable treatments will be recommended. For many this is a positive step forward, knowing that they will soon be in a position where they can leave the issues caused by adult acne behind them. 


Treatments mentioned in this article

Acne is a very common condition caused by the inflammation of grease-producing glands in the skin, leaving blocked pores (blackheads and whiteheads) and inflamed red papules and pustules, otherwise known as ‘spots’. Acne predominantly occurs during adolescence and is most commonly experienced on the face, back and chest.

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The Dual Yellow Laser is a cutting-edge, multi-function laser technology exclusively available at the Cadogan Clinic to treat a range of skin conditions with unique effectiveness. Typical uses include the repair of broken capillaries, removal of thread veins, repair of sun-damaged skin, treatment of Melasma, open pores, hyper-pigmentation, stretch marks, acne and acne scarring and removal of tags, moles and warts.

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