Why Adults Get Acne, Too

In most people’s minds, acne is just as closely associated with the teenage years as prom and driver’s ed. If you’re like many American adults, though, you’ve already figured out that pimples can pop up at any age. While it’s true that adolescent acne is often caused by the excess skin oil that those raging teenage hormones can create, acne is actually a much more complex condition with a wide variety of potential causes. Each person’s acne is unique, so our board-certified dermatologists at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta are weighing in on the many possible causes of adult acne:

Why Adults Get Acne, Too

Hormonal changes

Your hormones can fluctuate throughout your life, and sometimes these hormonal changes can cause acne flare-ups. While it can happen to anyone, these issues are particularly common for women, especially around their menstrual periods, during pregnancy, during menopause, and when starting, stopping, or changing birth control methods.


Too much stress can cause all manner of craziness in your body, including producing excess androgens—a specific type of hormone. These extra androgens stimulate your oil glands and hair follicles, potentially triggering an acne break-out.

Products you use

Skin care products, make up, and hair care products can sometimes irritate the skin in a way that causes acne. Check all the products you use to see if their packaging includes terms like “non-comedogenic,” “non-acnegenic,” “oil-free,” or “won’t clog pores.” These phrases are all good indicators that the product is unlikely to cause acne. If you have any products that don’t contain one of these terms, consider swapping it with an alternative.

Underlying medical condition

Some medical conditions that seem completely unrelated to your skin can actually cause adult acne, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. In these cases, the acne often clears up after the medical issue has been treated effectively. When you schedule an appointment at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, our providers will ask you questions to determine if another medical condition may be causing your acne.

Medications you’re taking

Acne is a potential side effect of a number of medications. This is particularly common with lithium, antiseizure medicines, and corticosteroids. If you believe one of your medications might be causing your acne, do not stop taking it without medical guidance. Instead, schedule an appointment with the prescribing doctor to find out if there are other options. If not, our experienced dermatologists may still be able to help you manage the acne.


Ultimately, some people are simply genetically prone to acne. Even still, with the many acne treatments available today, both as medications you take at home and as in-office procedures, the chances are high that we will be able to get your acne under control and give you a clearer, healthier complexion.

With so many contributing factors, the unfortunate reality is that acne is never really off the table…but neither is clear skin, thanks to the many advanced and customizable acne treatments we can provide at DAA, like light therapy, antibiotics, customized topical prescription medications, and more. To start getting to the bottom of your acne, schedule an appointment with us. For more skin care tips, helpful news and even special offers, follow Dermatology Associates of Atlanta on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.