Adult Acne vs. Teen Acne

adult male acne

While getting acne in your teens may seem like an inevitability, you will be happy to know that it is not one of life’s guarantees. In fact, some teenagers and young adults (those aged 12-24) may not experience acne at all in their formative years – around 15% to be exact. That stated, those of us who don’t develop acne in our teens or young adulthood are not completely off the hook. In fact, we can actually still experience adult acne. Today, we are going to dive into what exactly adult acne is, and whether there are notable differences between acne during those precious teen years and adulthood.


However, before we can address acne in teenagers, we must discuss something that is an actual inevitability, puberty.

Acne puberty



Puberty and acne in your teens


Puberty is a process of changes that happens inside everyone’s body that can affect our outward appearance when we begin to mature out of childhood.


For girls, puberty usually happens between the ages of 10 and 14, while it can occur between the ages of 12 and 16 for boys. A key bodily change that happens during puberty, which can affect our skin, is an increase in androgens or female/male hormones. Androgens play a large role in our bodies development and as a result can make our skin’s oil glands larger while increasing their oil production.


Since some of the main contributing factors to acne is excess oil production, hormones, and stress; it makes sense that we are more likely to deal with breakouts as teens and during puberty. Being a teenager can be a stressful time; throw hormones and enlarged oil producing pores into the mix, and you have a perfect storm for acne to make its debut.


In addition to the puberty hormones, other things like sweat, cosmetics, or friction from your pillowcase/clothes can all contribute to acne forming on your skin. Don’t fret though, because millions of people deal with acne each year and there are treatment options available if your acne is more severe.

Cleansing face with acne




Adult acne


For those of us who thought we made it safely to the other side of adolescence acne-free, mother nature decided to throw us a curveball in the form of adult acne.


Adult acne, which is defined as acne that develops after the age of 25, can be a continuation of the acne we experience in adolescence or it can be brand new for those of us who did not have acne-prone skin as teens. While it may be frustrating to suddenly develop (or continue) acne breakouts as you start your descent into adulthood, there is information out there to help you help your skin.


Causes for adult acne


You may or may not find it reassuring that the same factors that can cause acne in our teens/young adulthood are responsible for acne in adulthood as well. The main sources being excess oil production, dead skin cells clogging pores, bacteria/inflammation, and hormones.


However, the list above is not exhaustive and there are certainly other things that could be creating the ideal environment for pimples on our skin.


Additional risk factors for adult acne include;

  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Menstrual cycles in women
  • Hair/skin products, and
  • Medications that we might be taking

It may seem overwhelming that there are so many variables affecting our skin’s health, but there are also solutions to help keep adult acne in check.


Stress and acne



Acne prevention/treatment for teens and adults


As you can see above, there is not a huge amount of difference in how our skin behaves with teenage acne versus adult acne. The main point of separation between adult and teen acne is that puberty hormones play a larger role in causing our skin to change, but the resulting acne fares the same. Therefore, the methods for treatment overlaps as well. Here we offer some tips for prevention and treatment of both adult and teen acne.



When it comes to our skin, sometimes the best defence is a good offence. What we mean by this adage is that taking steps for prevention can be a big help with our skincare. So, things like face washing with the right cleanser, thorough make-up removal with a non-comedogenic product and using oil free/non-pore-clogging products can improve our skin before we even begin treating it.



In terms of treatment, there are topical therapies that can be picked up at a pharmacy such as Skin Plus Compounding Pharmacy, which may be sufficient to help improve skin issues for many. However, if you find that the over-the-counter treatments are not doing the job, you can always reach out to a dermatologist. Dermatologists are medically trained to help diagnose and treat skin issues. They can work with you to define the severity of your acne and create a personalised treatment plan.


The information presented on this website is for general information and example purposes only, does not contain health advice specific for users and must not be relied on for that purpose.  Please see your GP, dermatologist or other health care professional for specific advice.

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