For many adults, what was considered teenage suffering continued into their twenties and thirties. For other adults with acne, breakouts don’t begin until they reach their 20s.
The causes of adult acne vary and can be one or a combination of the following.
Until recently, stress acne was a myth. Researchers are now beginning to understand the relationship between stress and acne. For adults with acne, stress is the main cause of post-pubertal breakouts.
When we are exposed to stressful situations, the brain activates the central nervous system, which in turn sends signals to the rest of the body as part of the primitive fight or flight response. Part of this response is the release of hormones from the adrenal glands and sebaceous secretions from the sebaceous glands located under the skin.
Hormonal imbalance and sebum production, which can block pores, are known to contribute to acne.
Hormonal imbalances as a cause of adult acne mainly affect women. Irregularities that occur during a woman’s menstrual cycle or as a result of pregnancy can lead to breakouts.
There are adult men who have reported monthly bouts of acne. While men clearly do not menstruate, it is believed that men can have hormonal cycles similar to those of women.