Can You Suddenly Get Acne As an Adult?

Oct 02, 2023
Can You Suddenly Get Acne As an Adult?
If you didn’t get acne as a teenager, you might think that you’ll never have to deal with it. However, adult acne might be more common than you realize. We go over what to expect if you’ve suddenly started getting acne as an adult.

Are you well past your teenage years and yet you’ve suddenly started struggling with acne breakouts? Well, unfortunately, many adults find themselves battling pesky pimples throughout their adulthood, and that number has increased in the past few decades.

Although they look the same, adult acne differs from teen acne. Teens typically struggle with acne on the upper half of their face while adults have breakouts on the bottom half. Adults also tend to have pimples that appear as cysts and are deep under the skin whereas teen acne sits on the surface.

So, if you find yourself suddenly wondering how to treat this new skin problem, our team at Integrated Dermatology of 19th Street in Washington, DC, is here to help. In this blog, we review what might be causing your adult acne and how to address it.

What might be causing your adult acne?

Adult acne happens when there are issues with your skin and your pores. When your skin produces too much oil and your pores aren’t able to get rid of it effectively or quickly enough, you end up with acne. Acne can also happen as a result of bacteria or inflammation.

Some common things that cause this to happen include:

Family history

Genetics have a huge role in your risk of having adult acne. Even if you have a distant relative who has struggled with acne as an adult, that can give you a predisposition for developing acne after your teenage years.

Fluctuating hormone levels

When your sex hormone levels change around the time of your period or during pregnancy, your body may produce excess oil or your skin can become inflamed. Both of these things can cause you to have acne breakouts.


If you find yourself under constant emotional stress, your body may start to produce hormones called androgens. This specific hormone can stimulate your oil glands and hair follicles and cause you to deal with acne.

Hair and skin products

Many different self-care products that you probably use on a regular basis such as shampoos, hair styling creams, moisturizers, sunscreens, and makeup could possibly be causing your acne breakouts. Try to use products that are oil-free and won’t clog your pores in order to reduce your chance of an acne flare-up.

Treating your adult acne

One of the best things you can do to address your acne is to cleanse your skin twice a day. You want to especially make sure you’re removing excess makeup and oil. This can help to make sure that your pores are staying nice and clear.

You can also use a topical retinoid cream in order to unclog pores and resurface your skin. Retinoids have anti-inflammatory properties which can help to reduce your risk of acne breakouts. 

If your acne isn’t responding to those kinds of treatments, make sure to come in and see us so we can try to figure out what’s causing your acne and tailor a treatment plan that will work best for you. We can prescribe medication or recommend other methods such as laser treatments or chemical peels.

To learn more about our acne treatments, contact our team to schedule an appointment with us. You can do this by giving our office a call at 202-955-6995 or by booking online today.