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Top 5 Causes of Adult Acne and How Can you Treat It

Posted by Kathi on September 14, 2016

Acne is bad enough when you’re a teenager, but when you’re an adult, it can be just plain embarrassing. If this is you, you aren’t alone! According to, adult acne affects 25% of adult men and 50% of adult women at some point in their lives. And today, dermatologists are seeing more adult acne patients than ever before.

So what are the causes of breakouts in adults?


You would think that by the time you’re an adult, your hormones will have stabilized to the point that they would no longer cause acne. Think again! Fluctuation in hormones, like the one women experience before their menstrual cycle begins, is the main cause of adult acne. For men, it’s a fluctuation in male hormones, including testosterone, that typically cause acne. Men naturally secrete more of these male hormones. In addition, testosterone levels typically increase as a result of exercise, which leads to a greater likelihood men will develop adult acne.


This is likely why dermatologists are seeing more adult acne cases than in the past. Many women work full time while simultaneously trying to juggle raising kids and taking care of their families. They’re taking on way more than previous generations! In order to combat stress, the body makes more of the hormone cortisol. Unfortunately, during this process, a bit of testosterone leaks out with it, causing more oil to be produced and, inevitably, more breakouts.

Too Much Sugar

Your sweet tooth could be impacting more than your waistline! Evidence shows that when sugar raises your insulin level, it boosts the male hormones that produce more breakouts. Do yourself a favor and stick to low-glycemic foods that cause a less significant insulin spike.

Using the Wrong Products or Using Them Too Frequently

Over-exfoliating or over-cleansing your skin can lead to breakouts. The same can be said of products that make skin oilier. The bottom line is that it’s important to know your skin and use the right products for the best results.


This is something most of us don’t think about affecting our skin. However, when you get home at the end of the day, wipe your face with a toner pad or face wipe and see what it looks like.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 83 million tons of pollution were emitted into the air in 2012. And that pollution isn’t just staying on the surface of your skin and coming off when you wash your face at night. The tiny particles are penetrating into deeper layers of the epidermis, causing inflammation and dehydration as well as a loss of elasticity and firmness.

And all this pore-clogging pollution definitely can lead to an increase in adults acne. Make sure you’re exfoliating regularly and helping your skin to repair itself by using a serum with antioxidants.

How can you treat adult acne?

Believe it or not, there are a lot of options out there for treating the tell-tale signs of acne. (There are even options for treating the scarring that can result from acne!) And it definitely isn’t necessary to rely on harsh products that rob your skin of moisture and leave your face dry and peeling for weeks.

Here are a few acne treatments we recommend to our own clients.

Treating Active Breakouts

Most acne products on the market are designed to be applied directly to the surface of your skin. However, one of our favorite treatments for active breakouts is Skin Accumax, a supplement designed to clear up moderate acne from the inside out.

Skin Accumax contains a combination of vitamins and plant nutrients designed to address the underlying factors that cause acne. Also, while most products are designed specifically for the face, Skin Accumax can treat breakouts all over the body.

Skin Accumax is also appropriate for anyone over the age of 16, which makes it a great acne treatment for teenagers. Please do note, however, that women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or planning to become pregnant should not take this product .


The HydraFacial is another option, especially for someone with sensitive skin who wouldn’t be a good candidate for a chemical peel or micro needling. This non-invasive resurfacing treatment removes dead skin cells, leaving you with beautiful, fresh new skin! (It’s also a great solution for treating post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which we discuss in detail below.)

AOB Acne Buster Facial

This facial is great for active breakouts as well as post inflammatory pigmentation. It’s specifically designed to treat your acne-prone, oily skin while improving hydration.

Treating Acne Scars

Many adults who suffered from bad acne in their youth have scarring as a result. Luckily, there are treatments available for those individuals as well!


Bellafill is a phenomenal solution if you suffer from unsightly acne scarring. It is an injectable that is designed to add volume back into the pockets where you have scarring. What makes this product so unique, though, is that unlike most injectables, it’s been FDA-approved to last up to five years. (Some even claim that their results have been permanent!) Regardless, it’s a long-lasting solution to minimize the appearance of acne scars.

Treating Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, often referred to as PIH, is the medical term that refers to the dark pink or brown spots on your skin where the acne lesions have healed. Some people mistake this discoloration as scarring. PIH develops when a wound like a pimple causes your skin to become inflamed. As it heals, your skin produces too much melanin, the protein that gives your skin its color and the excess melanin causes discoloration that remains after the pimple has gone away.

So how can you treat PIH?

We have a LOT of options for treating PIH. For a full list of treatments for hyperpigmentation, visit our website. Below are a few that we commonly recommend for PIH.

Micro Needling

Microneedling is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves using a device with fine needles to create microscopic wounds in the skin. This triggers the body to create new collagen and elastin to fill the wounds. While the idea of wounding your skin to improve its appearance may seem counterproductive, the procedure will improve both your skin texture and tone, reducing the appearance of PIH.

Chemical peels

A chemical peel is a solution applied to the skin that causes it to exfoliate and peel off. The new skin is smoother and has a more even skin tone, making it a great option for treating PIH. We have a few options available for patients interested in chemical peels for treating acne.

Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing

This non-invasive laser treatment is a fantastic solution for reducing the appearance of acne scarring as well as skin discoloration from PIH.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a lot of different options for treating acne and the scarring or PIH that has resulted from breakouts. You absolutely do not have to accept your adult acne. If you are an adult (or even a teenager) who suffers from acne and you’re in the Denver area, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists to discuss your best acne treatment options.