What is adult onset acne? Adult onset acne refers to adults experiencing acne during their mid twenties or older. Some of these adults may be suffering from acne for the first time despite having clear skin in their teens, and the adult onset acne may persist till they are in their 40s.
Many women may find themselves having acne suddenly during their twenties, thirties and forties. This sudden onset of adult acne in women may be less severe than teenage acne, it can be more challenging to treat. Female adult acne is characterized by comedonal acne on the forehead and cheeks, and inflammatory papules or nodules on the lower part of the face, chin and neck.
Sudden onset of adult acne in women may be due to underlying health conditions. A woman suffering from hyperandrogenism (the excessive production of androgen hormones) may have an abnormality of the endocrine system which controls hormone production. This in turn may be associated with serious health conditions such as infertility, heart disease and diabetes. Polycystic ovarian disease, where the ovaries do not function properly, may be another underlying cause. Career women in their 30s and 40s are also highly stressed, which may in turn lead to adult female acne.
Perhaps, though, the most common reason for female adult acne is the constant hormone changes a woman experiences throughout her lifetime – from puberty to regular menstruation, oral contraception (the progesterone-only pill is a common culprit of female acne), pregnancy and menopause. These life events are accompanied by tremendous hormonal changes which may trigger acne outbreaks.
Typically, nearly half of all adult women experience acne a week before menstruation. The decrease in oestrogen and rise in testosterone before bleeding is thought to increase sebum production, while also increasing the size of the pores and stimulating the follicles to form acne.
What Causes Chest Acne When Pregnant?
There is an increase in hormones during pregnancy, which increases oil production and hence pimples. Some women may experience acne for the first time during their pregnancy, while some women may find that pregnancy actually clears up their acne. For those women who do experience acne during pregnancy, they are likely to have acne not just on the face, but also on the chest and back during the first trimester. The spots are likely to clear as pregnancy progresses, when oestrogen levels increase.
A few women will experience acne at both the start and end of their pregnancy, because of the change in hormones as the body prepares for birth and raised hormone levels to sustain milk production for breastfeeding.
Acne during pregnancy is difficult to treat, as many prescription and over-the-counter treatments may harm the developing foetus. Probably the best acne treatment during this period would be benzoyl peroxide, the use of non-comedogenic skin care and hair care products, as well as a good skin care regimen for adult acne.
Once a woman is done with childbearing, she may consider the use of the contraceptive pill or isotretinoin to treat her acne.
As a woman ages, her hormone production will change again. With the drop in oestrogen production by the ovaries, some menopausal women may experience menopausal acne, which is often accompanied by itchy, flaky skin – a skin condition known as seborrhoea.
It is thought that the decrease in oestrogen during this period of life is responsible for the outbreak, giving rise to an increase in androgens. Home replacement therapy, often used to help alleviate the other symptoms of menopause, can also sometimes cause an acne breakout. Fortunately, menopausal acne responds well to conventional acne treatments such as Vitamin A. The menopausal acne will also improve and disappear once the menopause is over.
For more information on how to deal with sudden onset of adult acne in women, check out this video below where Dr Steven Jepson talks about three different hormonal causes of acne in adult women and how to correct each of these causes.