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A guide to adult acne:

Acne is a common skin condition that can affect many people regardless of age. It is common to have a form of acne during childhood; however acne can occur in adults.

Acne can be categorised based on severity: you would fall into the ‘mild acne’ category if you have fewer than 20 whiteheads or black heads and/or fewer than 15 inflamed nodules or bumps. In total less than 30 lesions. You would be diagnosed with ‘Moderate acne’ if you had 20-100 black/whiteheads, up to 30 inflamed bumps or 30-125 lesions. Severe Cystic Acne is described as having Multiple inflamed cysts and Nodules, typically of a dark purple or red colour- This type of acne commonly leaves scarring of a pitted appearance.

Once the acne is described as moderate to severe, the dermatologist may recommend prescription medication.


The most common causes of acne:

Over production of sebum and blockages to the sebaceous glands;

Sebaceous glands are the small glands attached to the hair follicle near the surface of the skin, the sebaceous gland is primarily used to lubricate the skin to prevent it drying out. In acne cases, the gland produces too much Sebum which then ‘blocks’ the follicles causing blackheads and whiteheads to form. Bacteria on the skin can then contaminate the follicle causing papules and pustules to form.


Increased testosterone levels;

Teenage acne is commonly thought to be caused by increased hormone levels during puberty. The sebaceous glands are extremely sensitive to hormones and it is thought that the increased levels of testosterone can be linked to the overproduction of Sebum, this is something that stays with us as adults so any hormonal changes can be reflected in our skin.


Hereditary acne;

Studies have shown that acne can run in the family, when parents have suffered with acne both in childhood or as an adult it can increase the likelihood that the child is more likely to suffer with the same condition.



Women are more likely to suffer with adult acne than men, this is thought to be due to the constant fluctuations in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. In addition, a common condition in women is ‘polycystic ovaries’-This condition can trigger acne, weight gain and excess hair growth.



Other causes of mild acne can be related to diet, exercise and wearing items that cause friction on the skin such as headbands/ hats. However, these typically do not cause severe symptoms and can be cleared quickly using topical products and/ or changing a habit.

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