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8 Surprising Reasons For Your Adult Acne

If puberty’s long in your rear-view mirror, you might be perplexed as to why you’re still breaking out. Adult acne is a widespread issue that can leave people with low self-esteem and confusion – we’re here to lift the lid on the causes for this neglected condition.

Hormone fluctuations

At different stages of life, people go through some big hormonal changes, from puberty or pregnancy to menopause or andropause. These can cause pH imbalances in the skin, poor blood circulation and excessive oil production – all of which contribute to acne breakouts. Hormonal acne can be told apart from other varieties by its deep indentation and appearance similar to that of cysts. It’s also more likely to be painful.


This one’s a more frustrating cause for acne – for some people, it’s a genetic predisposition. If 1 or both of your parents have adult acne, this could be why you’re experiencing it too.

Certain foods

Some people report skin reactions to certain foods like dairy and sugar foods – while the research hasn’t found any solid proof, if you find yourself breaking out every time you down a block of chocolate it could be worth cutting back on the sweet stuff. Try keeping a food diary to get to the bottom of your triggers.

Hair and skincare products

Damaging soaps or razors can weaken your skin’s protective barrier, leading to inflammation, which increases your chance of developing acne. Oily shampoos may also clog your pores and result in a breakout – your ideal product should be labelled as non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t block your pores.

Stress and poor mental health

High stress can result in excess cortisol – the stress hormone – along with sending a whole host of other hormones out of whack, resulting in increased sebum production. This is an oil which, when produced in excess, is known for causing acne.

Poor exercise hygiene

You might not suspect your weekly gym sesh as the culprit for your recent acne outbreak, but it could well be to blame. This is because exercise can cause sweating and an oil build-up in the skin, along with the growth of bacteria on your skin. But you don’t have to throw in the towel for the sake of your skin! A few simple changes to your exercise hygiene can prevent your pimple woes. These include the following:

  • Remove any makeup before your workout
  • Put on clean clothes
  • Wipe sweat away during your workout
  • Wipe down shared equipment before (and after!) using it
  • Time your shower for right after your workout and gently wash your face


Health conditions and disorders

There are many conditions that could cause acne – or even cause what may appear as acne to the naked eye. Undiagnosed conditions like rosacea, some types of dermatitis and keratosis pilaris could create a rash that appears to be acne, but is actually a symptom of the condition. Polycystic ovary syndrome can also cause hormonal changes that lead to acne.


Antidepressants and corticosteroids – including topical creams – have been known to cause acne in adults, along with some kinds of birth control and epilepsy medications. It’s worth taking a look into any prescriptions you have to see if they could be the cause of your skin problems.

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