Acne is just one of the many inconveniences most of us will endure during puberty. But for many people, the acne doesn’t pass when the teenage years are over. Many adults continue suffering from acne well into their late 20s and beyond. Adult acne can be a major frustration and can interfere not only with your personal life but with your professional life as well. In fact, it can be so severe as to be painful at times. If you suffer from adult acne, keep reading to learn what the underlying causes of it may be, and how you can get acne treatment in San Diego.

The Direct Causes

Acne has both direct and indirect causes. First, let’s address the direct causes. Acne in adults is directly caused by a few factors:

  • Excess oil production in the skin
  • Clogged pores
  • Bacteria
  • Inflammation

These four factors are what cause your skin to break out. But what causes these four things to occur in your skin? These are what we call the indirect factors, and we’ll get into each of those in the sections below.


You might think that hormonally driven acne would pass with the raging hormones of puberty, but that’s not the case for everyone. Hormonal changes can continue to occur well into adulthood, especially in relation to women’s menstrual cycles. Most often, these breakouts are brought on by an increase of testosterone in the system, which increases oil production and inflammation in the skin.

If you experience these breakouts, or if your acne flares up significantly around your menstrual cycle, your doctor may recommend an oral medication called spironolactone. This medication helps keep testosterone in check. Oral birth control pills can also help to regulate hormones that can cause breakouts, especially surrounding the menstrual cycle.


Stress-induced breakouts are a very real problem, and odds are, you’re experiencing a lot more stress as an adult than you did as a teenager. With student loans, living expenses, work-related stress, and more on your plate now, your stress levels can impact your skin’s appearance. Of course, controlling your stress levels can be difficult, but you can talk to your doctor about options for reducing stress while also treating your adult acne more directly.

Personal Care Products

The products you put on your skin and even in your hair can cause your pores to become clogged and lead to bacteria buildup on your skin. Makeup, lotions, hairspray, and more can all contribute to your acne troubles, so it’s important to pay close attention to what you put on your skin while also following these tips:

  • Never go to bed with makeup on.
  • Clean your makeup brushes with soap and water regularly to avoid putting bacteria directly on your skin.
  • Check labels on all your skin care products or cosmetics. Look for labels with terms like “oil-free,” “non-comedogenic,” and “won’t clog pores.”
  • Avoid putting oils on your skin.
  • Cover your skin when using hairspray and other such products.
  • Wear sunscreen daily to prevent acne spots from darkening.

These are the primary underlying causes of adult acne. However, it’s also important to be aware that adult acne can be one symptom of other conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). If you have additional symptoms, such as irregular menstrual cycles, rapid weight changes, or excess hair growth along with adult acne, tell your doctor.

If you would like to discuss treatment options for your adult acne, contact Academic & Aesthetic Dermatology Consultants. We are experts in dermatology in San Diego, CA, and we can identify the underlying causes of your adult acne so we can determine the most effective treatment options for you. Call to schedule an appointment now!