Adult acne is not uncommon, and it affects women much more frequently than men. Acne.org explains that it affects 50 percent of adult females, as compared to only 25 percent of adult males. It most commonly appears on the face, but one-third of those affected will have an outbreak on another body part as well. Pimples are just as unsightly and annoying for adult women as for teens, but they are very treatable.
Acne is very common during adolescence. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) explains it usually resolves itself by the mid-20s, but it can persist in some adult women throughout their later years. The AAD states it can last into the 30s, 40s and 50s. This condition is known as “persistent acne.” For some women it may stop for many years before returning. This is known as “late-onset acne.”
Adult female acne sufferers usually have outbreaks on the face. Pimples generally appear in the lower facial area, according to the AAD. This includes the chin, mouth area and jawline. Acne patches may also appear on the back and chest.
Adult women appear to be more susceptible to acne than men because of their hormones, the AAD advises. Both teenage boys and girls go through major hormonal fluctuations during puberty, which makes acne common in both sexes. However, mature women continue to have monthly fluctuations as part of their reproductive cycles, which can make pimples flare up at certain times in the cycle. Pregnancy and menopause can also be acne triggers. The AAD states that stress may lead to excess oil production in many women, adding another contributing factor. Birth control pills, which are often taken by adult women, can ease acne, but it may return when they stop taking the medication.
Most adult women can control their acne with over-the-counter products that contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and topical antimicrobial medications. Retinoids may also help when combined with these treatments. The most effective retinoids requite a doctor’s prescription, according to the AAD. Certain cosmetics contain acne-sighting ingredients like salicylic acid that can also help. Women who do not wish to get pregnant can often control their acne by taking a prescribed birth control pill.
The AAD recommends certain steps to prevent adult female acne. Women often wear cosmetics that can contribute to pimples by clogging pores. This can be prevented by using makeup labeled as “nonacnegenic” and “noncomedogenic.” Regular gentle face washing will help keep oil and bacteria under control.
While acne is common and usually harmless in adult women, the AAD warns it can be a sign of more serious conditions. It can mean there is a hormone secreting tumor in one of the ovaries or the adrenal gland. It can indicate other adrenal disorders or a condition called polycystic ovaries. Women should see a doctor if the acne comes along with thinning hair, bald spots and irregular menstruation.
About this Author
Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with more than 20 years’ experience. She is also a mental health counselor and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as “The Writer,” “Animal Wellness,” “SuperVision,” “Bird Talk,” “SpeciaLiving” and “Twins.”