Why Am I Still Getting Acne as an Adult?

Oct 24, 2023

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Acne is a common skin problem for millions of people, and a larger number of adults are still struggling with the embarrassing symptoms it brings. Take a moment to find out why the problem can persist, and what you can do about it.

Skin conditions are common and vary wildly in severity, with acne (acne vulgaris) one of the most common and only a mild threat to your health. 

The blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, papules, pustules, and cysts associated with this condition affect around 85% of people 12-24 years old, largely considered like some hormonal rite of passage of puberty. 

However, some people still struggle with this skin problem well into adulthood, and it can happen for a variety of reasons. 

Let’s look into why you’re still dealing with acne well into your adult years by determining the causes and symptoms of the skin illness, why it can linger well after puberty, and what you can do to prevent or manage it.

Residents of Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, and Bullhead City, Kingman, and Lake Havasu City, Arizona, who need ways to deal with acne after puberty or other skin conditions can find help with the extensive team of doctors at Thomas Dermatology.

Causes and symptoms of acne

The pores in your skin allow you to sweat, carry a form of oil important to healthy skin (sebum), and allow hair to grow. Acne develops when these pores are filled with things like dead skin cells, excess oil, or other particles, leading to the pimples and other growths on your skin.

Acne comes in several forms, such as fungal cystic, hormonal and nodular, and some types leave scars behind.

Reasons for adults getting acne

Adults have been increasingly dealing with acne in the past 20 years, and there are numerous reasons possible reasons, including:

Hormonal changes

Changes in your sex hormone levels can create issues with ph balance, irritation, excess oil, and circulation problems in your skin.

Family history

Genetics can play a role in your chances of having acne after puberty, but it can come from a distant relative as well as a member of your immediate family.

Hair and skin products

Shampoos, styling products, makeup, conditioners, facial creams and moisturizers that have excess oil or comedogenic products can cause acne.

Contact irritation

Using harsh cleansers, shaving dry skin, and other things that may irritate skin can weaken your skin’s defenses and cause acne.


Emotional and physical stress can lead to biological changes that create more cortisol or trigger hormonal changes that lead to acne outbreaks.


Propionibacterium acnes is the bacteria that can accumulate subdermally and cause acne.


Some corticosteroids, antidepressants, and epilepsy medications can result in acne flare-ups.

Prevention and treatment

There are many ways you can try to prevent or treat acne at any age, such as avoiding the triggers that lead to it and starting a skin care routine that moisturizes skin without using products that have excess oil. 

You should also wash regularly after sweating, use products that are gentle on your skin, rinse with lukewarm water, and avoid popping pimples and touching your face.

Treatment options are pretty similar to what you would use as a teen, including over-the-counter (OTC) benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, and salicylic acid, and prescription treatments like antibiotics, antiandrogens, and medical-strength retinoids.

While more adults are dealing with acne, we’re here to help you get clearer, better-looking skin. When you’re ready to be rid of acne at any age, make an appointment with the medical team at Thomas Dermatology today.