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5 Possible Causes of Adult Acne

Contrary to popular belief, acne doesn’t only affect teens. According to a study done by members of The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, out of 69 adult men and 385 adult women,15% of the men and 85% of the women suffered from mild to moderate acne breakouts. Of teen patients, 53% of the 378 females and 47% of the 335 males suffer from acne. In total, that’s 41.3% of adult sufferers versus 58.7% of teen sufferers. So, what does this tell us? Adults suffer from acne outbreaks nearly as much as teens. But why? In teens, we typically blame hormones, school stress, greasy foods, and puberty, but do those symptoms affect us too? We’ve put together a list of the top 5 possible causes of adult acne and explain why they affect us the way they do.


Believe it or not, we adults continue to deal with occasionally out-of-control hormones. This is especially true for women during menstruation and pregnancy. When our hormones swing it causes various changes including changes to our chemical balance (pH balance), blood circulation and of course an increase in oil production. The latter is what creates clogged pores that will soon cause acne to develop.

Skin Irritants

Our skin has a natural barrier that tries its best to handle anything that may cause it, or the precious cargo it’s protecting, to be harmed. However, certain irritants like shaving and using harsh soaps can lower those defenses– even more so when the skin isn’t properly moisturized. When the barrier is down, bacteria and oil can invade the skin and cause acne to appear.


Just about every skin condition can blame stress as a possible cause. Acne isn’t any different. Both emotional and physical stress can cause adult acne. As teens, our main source of stress was school and parents. Yet, as adults, stress can come from a number of sources. This includes work, financial frustrations, children, family, and so on. That is only emotional stress. There are also physical stresses to consider like weather, sleep deprivation, sickness, and even air pollution. These stress factors can cause changes in our skin while the emotional stress factors cause biological changes– both of which can lead to an overproduction of sebum (our body’s natural oil) thus creating breakouts.

Excess Oil

Speaking of sebum, when the body produces too much of it, it’ll begin to clog our pores. Clogged pores are a direct cause of acne as dirt, bacteria, and oil is trapped inside, thus creating the bumps that we call acne.

Greasy Foods

We should mention that foods do not actually cause acne. So why list it? While greasy foods do not cause acne breakouts, they’re definitely the culprits. Many greasy foods are finger foods; pizza, fried chicken, french fries and the like. We allow our fingers to be smothered in the oil from these foods. At some point, before we wash our hands, we touch our faces, oftentimes without thinking. So instead of an excess of sebum, we have an excess of cooking oil clogging up our pores and attracting dirt. The next morning we’ll find a cluster of pimples and automatically blame the food we ate. It wasn’t the food; it was our absent-mindedness.

Now that you know what causes adult acne, it’s time to actually do something about it. If you are in the central Ohio area, reach out to our experts at The Dermatology Group. We offer advice, resources, and most importantly, treatment. Don’t hesitate to call us today!

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