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If you suffered through acne during your adolescent years, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d done the hard yards to now be granted a clean slate in adulthood. Except, you wouldn’t be farther from the truth. Acne is a skin condition that affects 64% and 43% of those aged 20-29 and 30-39, respectively. And if you fall into one of those age brackets, we bet you can vouch for the frustration, stress and damage to self-confidence an acne breakout can leave in its wake.

Generally, it’s the same factors that contribute towards adolescent acne that play a role in causing adult acne. So, let’s find out exactly what causes adult acne.

What causes adult acne?

To understand the cause of adult acne, you need to understand pores. The root cause for adult acne, pores are the openings on the skin that surround individual hair follicles. Inside the pores, sebaceous glands secrete sebum (oil) to keep skin soft and protected. If a pore becomes clogged by dirt, excess oil, dead skin cells, or bacteria, there’s an increased chance of an impending pimple.

Adult acne can also be influenced by the following indirect factors:

  • Hormonal fluctuations that cause an excess in oil production.
  • Stress causes the body to produce more androgens; a hormone that stimulates the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can result in adult acne.
  • Pollution can leave a build-up of debris on the skin that can clog pores.
  • Using the wrong hair and skin products can result in excess oil production, especially if you naturally have oily or combination skin.
  • Cleaning too regularly or too harshly can cause skin inflammation that leads to breakouts.
  • Diet, although current scientific data is nonconclusive, some people find that eating certain foods will cause their skin to breakout, specifically dairy.
  • Medications can list adult acne as a side effect.
  • Genetics of having a close family member with adult acne may predispose you to it, too.

If you think you have acne and want to treat it, read our different kinds of acne and how to treat it guide.

This guide is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your medical practitioner.