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Adult Acne in Women

Adult Acne in Women Adult Acne in Women Adult Acne in Women


Although acne is a cosmetic affliction generally associated with adolescence, it can affect anyone in any age group. However, adult acne in women is more common than it is in men. The physical and emotional fallout of adult acne can be devastating to women as they embark on professional careers and enter the dating world. However, the American Association of Dermatology indicates that although adult acne takes longer to resolve, it can be effectively managed with the right treatment and time.

Adult Acne Types

Women are more prone to persistent acne, which the AAD defines as acne that doesn't clear up by the mid-20s, as well as late-onset acne, which occurs in women who thought their acne had resolved. Persistent acne is usually characterized by lesions on the lower part of the face, such as the jawline, chin and around the mouth. Late-onset acne may present in the form of nodules and large pimples on the same area of the face as persistent acne, although it can also affect the chest and back.

Why Women Have it Worse

When adult women have acne, the AAD notes that hormones are usually to blame. Women may experience hormonal surges as they first enter puberty, but through most of their lives, they are subject to hormone fluctuations, such as before menstruation, during pregnancy and during menopause. The AAD states that many women who were able to treat the acne they had in high school using over-the-counter products often find these no longer work--making adult acne more frustrating.

Other Factors

The National Women's Health Information Center cites additional reasons that women get acne. These include taking certain medications--or oral contraceptive cessation-- using makeup and wearing restrictive headgear, such as bike helmets, which exacerbates acne lesions. Genetics come into play as well; if acne tends to be a family trait, there's more of a likelihood a woman will get it as well.

Basic Care

A good skin care regimen is the cornerstone of adult acne resolution. The AAD indicates that adult women, who frequently have drier or more sensitive skin than teenage girls, should select mild cleansing products. The face should be washed using only the fingertips rather than harsh facial puffs or washcloths. Many drugstore products, such as those that contain glycolic acid or salicylic acid, can curb acne, but they may leave the skin dry. The AAD advises women to apply a light, oil-free moisturizer. Using noncomedogenic cosmetics that don't clog the pores is helpful. There are also numerous medical treatments offered by dermatologists that effectively resolve acne when at-home care is ineffective.


The AAD cautions that adult acne may be accompanied by excessive hair on the face (hirsutism), thinning scalp hair or male-pattern balding, obesity and irregular menstrual periods, could signal that a woman has a serious underlying medical condition that requires treatment. These conditions include as polycystic ovaries or adrenal hyperplasia, which are caused by excessive levels of hormones. The AAD underscores the importance of seeing a doctor if these signs and symptoms accompany acne.

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