Adult Female AcneMany people think of acne as a teenage skin condition, but acne can persist well into one’s 30s, 40s, and even 50s. Acne that does not clear by one’s mid-20s is called "persistent acne". Often causing deep-seated, tender, inflamed pimples and nodules, this type of acne is more common in women. Persistent acne tends to form on the lower face, predominately around the mouth, on the chin, and along the jawline.
Adults also develop late-onset acne. Again, women are more susceptible. People who have not had acne for years can suddenly see deep-seated, inflamed pimples and nodules. Even those who have never had acne get late-onset acne. For some women, acne becomes a problem during menopause. Adult-onset acne generally forms on the chin, jawline, and around the mouth. Lesions can appear on the chest and back.
Why Adult Women Get Acne
- Fluctuating hormones. Many people associate acne with the fluctuating hormones of puberty, but later in life hormones can flare and fade, causing acne breakouts, especially during menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy.
- Birth Control Medication: Since birth control medication changes the hormonal balance in the body, birth control medication can help prevent adult female acne. Stopping birth control medication may result in breakouts that the medication kept at bay, and some birth control medications which do not contain estrogen may result in an increased occurrence of acne. These include anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, and sobriety drugs. Never stop taking a prescription medication because acne develops or worsens.
- Genetic Predisposition. Studies have found that many adult women who experience persistent acne have a direct relative who also experiences acne, suggesting that family history may play a part in acne breakouts.
- Stress. Studies indicate that stress may trigger acne in women. Researchers have found a relationship between increased stress levels and higher levels of acne in women with fast-paced careers. In response to stress, the body produces more androgens (a type of hormone). These hormones stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin. When over-stimulated such as during times of stress, acne can flare.
- Products used on hair and skin. Products such as oily sunscreens and hair greases can promote a type of acne called acne cosmetica. When buying products to be used on the skin or hair, look for ones labeled “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic.” This means that they are less likely to cause acne.
Acne can be a warning sign.
Acne also may be warning a woman of an underlying medical condition. When a woman’s acne is accompanied by excessive facial hair, thinning hair or bald patches on the scalp, and irregular periods, it may be a sign of polycystic ovaries (a condition that causes cysts to develop in the ovaries) or adrenal hyperplasia (a group of adrenal gland disorders). It also is possible that the woman has a hormone-secreting tumor located in her adrenal gland or an ovary. It is vital that women experiencing these signs and symptoms see a doctor. Testing can find the cause and allow the doctor to determine the best treatment. The acne will not clear until the medical condition is treated.
Barring an underlying medical condition, most cases of adult acne can be effectively controlled with acne therapy. Though many people believe that treatment is unavailable, there are many types of effective treatment for adult female acne available through Clarkston Dermatology.