I Thought Acne was Only for Teenagers! 5 things to Know About Adult Female Acne

adult acne

1. Adult female acne is common!

While most people think acne is a common part of teenage existence ONLY, many women are surprised (and disappointed!) to find that it is also a common struggle of adult females. A recent study found that over half of women in their 20s have acne and a quarter of those in their 40s continue to battle this disease that they believe should be long-gone.

2. Fight those hormones

I approach adult female acne in a different way than I do with my teenage patients. While some of the basics are still the same, such as Retin-A, adult female acne is more often responsive to hormone therapies. All women have some proportion of testosterone (male hormone), but some have higher levels. These higher levels often cause increased oil production, leading to that stubborn, cystic acne in the chin or jawline area. For these women, I like to incorporate Oral Contraceptive Pills (aka birth control pills). Keep in mind that not all oral contraceptives are created equal. Some, such as those with only progesterone, can actually cause acne, while others, such as Yaz (combines both estrogen and progesterone), are specifically indicated for acne treatment. Lastly, I often incorporate a pill called spironolactone. This is an old, safe and effective blood pressure pill that was also found to block the testosterone receptor at lower doses.

3. Don’t be scared to moisturize

Although there may be increased oil production at the core of the problem, adult skin tends to be drier than its teenage counterpart due to sun damage and other factors. Therefore, I always remind my acne patients that choosing the right moisturizer, and using it consistently as a part of their daily routine, is an important part of the treatment. I often recommend Elta MD UV Clear, which is a line of moisturizer with sunscreen specifically formulated for acne-prone skin. I also recommend a night moisturizer serum, such as our Siperstein Ultra Hydrating Serum, which contains only hyaluronic acid, like a drink of water for your skin.

4. Pregnancy and pimples

Hormone changes during pregnancy can also cause acne breakouts. Unfortunately, most of the acne products on the market, even over-the-counter ones such as benzoyl peroxide, are not safe for pregnant women. For expecting mothers, I recommend glycolic acid washes to exfoliate, along with safe prescription products such as topical clindamycin and azelaic acid (which also has the added bonus of fighting those pesky brown spots that can come during pregnancy).

5. Be a patient patient

All acne treatments, whether topical creams or pills, take time to work. For all of my acne patients, I educate them about the importance of giving each treatment at least 6-8 weeks before giving up or switching. For those who want more immediate results, I often recommend combining my treatment plan with hydrafacials with one of our amazing licensed medical estheticians.