The root cause of adult acne is the same as what causes teenage acne – the final common pathway of excess skin oil secretion, blockage or occlusion of pores (the exits) and bacteria. Just as in teenagers, changes in hormones, such as during pregnancy and menstruation, can trigger excess oil and sebum secretion.
Acne tends to run in families, along with the type of skin you inherit, so if a parent had adult acne, you’re at higher risk. We still do not know exactly why we are getting more acne after clearing our adolescent years – but strong contenders include:
- constant irritation we cause our skin by applying layers of colour and reflective products in make-up
- slowing or stopping the skin’s natural exfoliation and regeneration by covering it with occlusive products all the time.
- shutting down the skin’s natural production of moisturisers by regular external moisturisation.
Hormones: Different levels of sex hormones (like testosterone and estrogen) cause your sebaceous glands to produce sebum at different levels. As your body matures, your hormones fluctuate at different levels. For some, acne is the byproduct. For women, this is common during pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause.
Adult acne is more often seen on the face, along the jaw line and neck, and is usually accompanied by dryer skin. Also, adult acne tends to be characterized by more red bumps or cysts than adolescent acne. The body’s anti-inflammatory response changes with age as there are more reasons for background inflammation and the skin takes longer to regenerate. So breakouts are more likely to become and stay inflamed than teen acne.