Cause of Acne in Adults 

Cause of Acne in Adults 

Acne is amongst the most common skin diseases in the world. While many people think that acne only occurs during puberty, countless adults also suffer from this inflammatory skin condition. 

But what exactly causes acne in adults – and is it possible to treat the condition? 

The below guide covers all the important information that you need to know about adult acne, including what the main acne causes for adults, possible treatments, and tips for managing the condition. 

What is Adult Acne?

Adult acne is a type of inflammatory skin condition that impacts people aged 25 and above. Acne is wrongly assumed to just impact teenagers going through puberty, but it also affects countless adults of varying ages, even upwards of 40 years old! 

What Causes Acne in Adults? 

There are four main acne causes for adults – these are the same causes that result in acne during puberty too.

While there might be many reasons why you’re getting acne in your adult years, it’s important to first learn about the direct physiological causes of adult acne. 

Excess Oil Production 

One of the main acne causes in adults is excess production of sebum from the sebaceous glands. Sebum is a natural oil substance that the body produces to help protect and moisturize your skin, but some people’s sebaceous glands produce excessive amounts of sebum.

woman with acne photo

When your skin is exposed to excessive sebum, your pores struggle to naturally remove the oil, causing them to clog. Dead skin cells also cause further clogging of your pores, resulting in blackheads and spots developing across your skin. 

Excess oil also combines with other factors listed below, like bacteria and dead skin cells, providing the perfect conditions for acne. 

Dead Skin Cells 

As mentioned above, a combination of excess sebum (oil) and dead skin cells provide ideal conditions for acne to develop. Your pores are responsible for releasing oil and sweat, so when these become clogged, it allows blackheads, pimples, and other symptoms of acne to develop on your skin.

While dead skin and oil tend to result in facial acne, it may also be one of the causes of body acne in adults. 


When excessive oil and dead skin clog your pores, it provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. A type of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes often develops in these bacteria-dense pores, resulting in acne breakouts across your skin. 

Furthermore, acne builds up beneath your skin, so isn’t always accessible with skincare products. When you can’t cleanse clogged pores with bacteria build-ups, acne may develop, even when regularly washing your skin. 


Inflammation is another acne cause in adults. Inflammation occurs when bacteria accumulation in clogged pores causes an infection. Your immune system attempts to remove the infection, resulting in inflamed skin. 

The inflammation that causes acne is often painful, while the redness around the skin can be disheartening. Moreover, the inflammation can result in more severe cases of acne, such as cystic acne. 

Other Factors That Might Cause Adult Acne 

Beyond the main causes listed above, there are several other factors that may cause acne in adults. 

Family History 

You might be more likely to develop adult acne based on your genetics. If you have relatives, such as parents, that have acne, either as a child or adult, then it could mean you are genetically predisposed to the condition. 

While it may be disheartening to hear that your acne is caused by family genetics, there are many effective treatments available!  


Changing hormones may be a leading cause of adult acne – just like it causes acne during puberty! 

Your hormones fluctuate throughout adulthood, with your sebaceous glands being especially sensitive to hormonal changes. For instance, it’s believed that increased testosterone causes higher sebum production, resulting in excessively oily skin.  

Women have various hormonal changes throughout their adult lives, and these may also cause acne to develop. For example, premenopausal hormone fluctuations may result in higher sebum production, causing acne in many women aged 35-55. 

Other causes of hormonal change in women include pregnancy, periods, and birth control methods, any of which may result in increased sebum production and acne.  

Hair, Makeup, and Skincare Products 

There is a chance that certain cosmetic products trigger acne breakouts in adults. 

Hair products are a common cause of adult acne for many. In fact, it’s so common that there is even a name for it - pomade acne! 

This type of acne occurs when oil from hair products seeps into the skin around your forehead. When the oil seeps into your pores, it clogs your hair follicles and leads to bacteria build-ups, often resulting in acne across your forehead. 

Similarly, if you have a fringe covering your forehead, then oil from your hair or hair products may seep into your skin, causing acne. 

Some skincare and makeup products may also cause acne in adults – although it’s less common today thanks to product testing. Many products contain ingredients that block pores or cause increased oil production, potentially causing an acne breakout.  

Try checking for oil-free and non-comedogenic ingredients to ensure that they don’t block pores or increase oil production.


Some medications cause acne in adults. These medications are often linked to hormonal changes, such as certain steroids and anti-depressants. A medication should list acne as a potential side-effect, so make sure to read the label.

Cystic Acne Causes in Adults

Cystic acne is a type of acne that results in severe breakouts across your skin. The difference between cystic and standard acne is that cystic acne sits much deeper beneath the skin, making it much more difficult to treat. 

woman with cystic acne photo

The main causes of cystic acne in adults are thought to be the same as other acne – excess sebum, clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation. Because the bacteria cause infections much deeper in your skin, resulting in large red cysts filled with puss.  

Why cystic acne occurs so deep in the skin is currently unknown.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to pop these cysts to alleviate the pain or itchiness – the puss causes the acne breakout to spread! 

Body Acne Causes in Adults 

While many people think that acne only affects your face, it can occur throughout the body, including the back, shoulders, arms, and neck. 

So, what exactly causes body acne in adults? The exact same factors that cause facial acne!

Excess sebum production can affect other areas beyond the face, causing pores throughout the body the become clogged. Add in factors like dead skin, bacteria, and inflammation, and you have the right conditions for acne anywhere on your body. 

Certain areas in the upper body, such as the back, are more susceptible to acne due to the higher presence of sebaceous glands.  

What Treatments are Available for Adult Acne?

There are various treatments available for adult acne, ranging from prescription medications to topical treatments. The severity of your acne typically determines the type of treatment and how long it takes to reduce the symptoms. 

For example, if it’s just a minor outbreak of spots, a doctor is likely to give a topical treatment like a gel or cream. Severe acne may require prescription medications like antibiotics, Accutane or Benzyl Peroxide.

You can also consult a dermatoligist about laser treatments which work well for some people. 

Furthermore, acne breakouts can be better managed with a good skincare regime. If you understand how to best care for acne-prone skin, it can help to reduce breakouts and the severity of your symptoms.

What are the Best Adult Acne Skin Care Products? 

By following a suitable skin care routine, you can better manage acne and reduce the likelihood of breakouts. 

Here are some tips with recommended ingredients and products to manage acne:

Always Remove Makeup 

As mentioned above, makeup may increase the chance of an acne outbreak by clogging pores, leading to bacteria growth and eventually pimples and inflammation. 

So, if you wear makeup, make sure to remove it before you go to bed. Sleeping with makeup on will clog your pores and cause clogged hair follicles! 

Choose a gentle makeup remover such as the NOA NOA LUXE Medicated Cleansing Gel. It not only removes makeup but also cleanses your skin, removing oil and bacteria build-ups in your pores. 


NOA NOA LUXE Medicated Cleansing Gel

NOA NOA LUXE Medicated Cleansing Gel


Use Toners to Help Prevent Breakouts 

Skincare products are best used as preventative treatments to help stop breakouts from occurring in the first place. 

Toner is a good choice for acne-prone skin, reducing the size of your pores while removing excess dirt and oil that causes acne. 

The HYAKKASO Facial Toner is a gentle toner suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin. It features lemon extract, which tightens pores while brightening skin. Alpinia protects collagen proteins that are damaged by UV rays, so it can reduce acne scarring worsened by too much UV exposure. 


HYAKKASO Facial Toner

HYAKKASO Facial Toner


Fight Bacteria with a Treatment 

Skin treatments are a great addition to skincare routines, helping to target specific issues such as wrinkles, dryness, or acne breakouts. 

The NOA NOA LUXE VC7 EVO Serum features anti-inflammatory properties, reducing redness and swelling caused by acne breakouts. Furthermore, the serum also kills bacteria build-ups in pores responsible for acne, while also limiting scarring caused by UV exposure. 

It’s a versatile treatment that balances sebum production and combats various symptoms of acne!  




Use Centella Asiatica extract

Centella Asiatica extract is an ingredient that’s super popular in East Asian countries, and for good reason. This ingredient is extremely effective in treating acne due to its ability to calm and heal inflammations. 

When adding products with this ingredient into your skin care routine, your skin barrier will balance out, redness will be reduced, and acne inflammations will disappear. You’ll also notice softer and more supple skin. 

A gentle alternative to Salicylic Acid and Benzyl Peroxide that’s just as effective - if not better. We’re sure the Cica Method line will be your next holy grail. 

If you’re suffering from adult acne, give the Cica Method line a try!


Cica  Method Infographic

Cica Method


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