Acne – not just for spotty teens

SKIN: The over 25s are still susceptible to acne in later life Photo credit: NHS

IT IS a misconception that acne is solely a condition of adolescence. Although it’s true that severe acne past the age of 45 is very rare, mild to moderate acne can either continue past the adolescent years (called persistent acne), or can appear suddenly in adulthood, even if the sufferer never experienced acne as a youth, called late onset acne. The general term adult acne applies to anyone over 25 with the condition.

Bacterial Infection

The skin’s hair follicles become clogged with excess sebum, which encourages the growth of bacteria. This leads to an excess of white cells being called to the site. The white cells secrete an enzyme, which damages the follicle walls, resulting in an inflamed pimple.


In men, the sebaceous glands can become hyper sensitive to testosterone, leading to an excess production of sebum. While hormonal fluctuations are more typically thought of as a female problem, the androgens present in the male body can encourage oily skin and breakouts.


While stress doesn’t cause acne, it can aggravate it. If you lead a stressful life, you’re more likely to sleep and eat poorly, which contributes to body toxins that have no way to escape except through the pores. In most cases, the stress didn’t cause the acne; rather, the acne caused the stress, which then just makes the acne worse.

Poor Hygiene

Formerly, the thinking was that the skin should be scrubbed aggressively in order to thoroughly clean it, but this just isn’t true. Too much washing can irritate the skin, and may also by itself stimulate the glands to produce more oil, thus creating more blemishes.

Drug Reactions

Some drugs have been linked to increased acne breakouts, including anabolic steroids, epilepsy medications, isoniazid and rifampin (used in the treatment of tuberculosis), lithium, and drugs that have iodine in them.

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