Acne is not only the problems of teenagers. Adult acne is something that occurs even after you turn 20. Acne can occur after the teenage period and it can be more severe and painful. Research also suggests that women are more prone to adult acne than men. Dermatologists suggest that it may be due to a combination of rising stress levels, hormonal changes and dietary factors that affect women more in their adulthood.

There are ways to treat acne. What we tend to do when we have a breakout is that we use several cosmetic products. Wash our acne prone area several times, scrub it and put ointments to curb it. But this only spreads the bacteria and reddens the already emerging pimple. We need to look at the root cause of acne before undergoing some remedy for it.

Causes of adult acne

  1. Blame it on the hormones

The menstrual cycle in women is related to hormonal fluctuations. As the period date approaches, the estrogen level in the body dips. This leaves the testosterone levels to go haywire. This testosterone or androgens are the male hormones which show themselves in the form of red, cyst-like, ugly breakouts. They also clog the pores and increase the skin’s oil production.

2. Are you on and off birth control pills?

Women tend to take birth control pills which regulate the oil in the body. As long as they are taking the pills the hormones in the pills regulate the oil glands.  But once they are off the pills, the body goes through a lot of hormonal changes to adjust to the new ‘no-pill’ environment. So the oil glands can become enraged and secrete more oil, thus resulting in severe acne breakouts.

3. Stress

Whether you are working or staying at home, whether you are a parent or not; stress tends to get into your lives slowly. Stress triggers hormonal changes. That is why if a woman is under a lot of stress, the menstrual cycle can go haywire. When a person is stressed, the adrenal gland makes the stress hormone cortisol and puts it into our bodies. In females this hormone can trigger the testosterone level which can produce more oil, thus increasing acne.

4. Pollution

I today’s world there is no place where you can hide from dirt and pollution. Even if you go for a walk or stay at home all day, when you do wash your face with a cotton swab and astringent, you will see a layer of dirt on it. This increases the chances of acne.

5. Using wrong products for your skin

Sometimes we tend to use products just because they look attractive or someone else is using them and benefiting from it. But you really need to know your skin type and then use products made especially for that skin type.

6. Lifestyle and diet

One of the major causes of acne is the food we eat. Having too much junk food or fried stuff can lead to an increase in acne. Same goes for dairy products or caffeine. Too much of these foods are bad for health. Iodine is something that should be avoided by everyone. We can find iodine in shrimps, lobster, crabs and some vegetables like spinach.  Too many sweets can also cause breakouts. Sugar increases the insulin level in your body. This boosts the oil-triggering hormone in your body.

7. Your pores enlarge

With age, factors like sun damage, pollution can take a toll on your skin. They break down the collagen and skin structure, causing the skin to stretch and open the pores. This allows more oil to enter the skin and get clogged up, resulting in pimples.

How is adult acne different from teenage acne?

Teenagers get acne mostly around the cheeks and the forehead. In adults, acne appears on the lower face, jawline, and neck. Adult acne comes in more severe form. They are big, red and bumpy. In teenagers, they are more like cystic bumps with a mix of whiteheads and blackheads all over the face. Adults do not face body acne as the oil glands in the chest and back secrete very less oil with age.

Treatment of adult acne

1. Exfoliation

Exfoliation should be done regularly. This can prevent acne breakouts and also treat them. A glycolic cleanser will help as it targets both- acne and wrinkles at the same time. Exfoliation stimulates collagen and hyaluronic acid.

2. Good food habits

Drinking adequate amount of water and eating fresh fruits and vegetables while avoiding junk food surely improves the texture of the skin. A diet which is less in refined carb should be followed and junk food should be minimised. The raised insulin levels from carbs may trigger a release of hormones that increase the oil production in the body.

3. Lessen dairy products

Researchers of Harvard have studied that girls who drink 2 or more glasses of milk daily are more prone to acne than those who drink only a glass a week. In fact, fat-free milk is also the culprit because it is high in sugar. Drink full-fat milk instead of skimmed milk. People are even switching to almond milk which might be a better option.

3. Cut back on salt

Iodine found in table salt and some seafood trigger acne breakouts. The overall salt consumption should be below 1500 mg per day.

4. Manage your stress levels

Stress does not create any skin disease but it does make the existing issues a lot worse. As we know stress is related to hormonal imbalances. Stress can be managed by exercising and meditation. You need to calm yourself with any method that suits you. This will calm your nerves and also your skin.


Adult Acne and Ayurveda

Ayurveda believes that a high amount of pitta moving under the skin can cause adult acne. A high pitta can be caused by stress, hormonal changes, pollution, too much of chemicals and sunlight. Ayurveda recommends a diet to pacify the pitta.


  • A small cup of aloe vera juice daily can help cleanse the body from within
  • Rubbing a melon on the blemished skin at bedtime can decrease the effect of the acne
  • Chickpea flour with water has a soothing effect on the skin
  • Rub your clean hands together until warm. Now place them on your face. This boosts circulation and helps detox the facial skin in a natural way.
  • Drinking 8-10 glasses of warm water or a few servings of herbal tea while completely avoiding soda and caffeine
  • Washing your face twice a day with a mild, preferably a tulsi and turmeric face wash will soothe the skin
  • Adequate sleep, an early to bed and early to rise regime with yoga and meditation can improve not only your skin troubles but also your overall lifestyle.