Adult Acne: Why Am I Still Breaking Out!

Man Popping Zits on his face There is no good time to get a pimple. If you are still breaking out during your adult days, I know what you are thinking… “Wasn’t I supposed to grow out of my acne?” Dealing with acne once you are past puberty is frustrating…

The truth is that acne can occur across different stages of a person’s life. While some of us have been able to get rid of it as we get older, there are many people who are just starting to get acne for the first time as an adult.

What Causes Acne?

Acne is caused by the overproduction of oil from your oil glands, which causes clogged pores and bacterial overgrowth. There are many factors that can cause adult acne.


Between our careers and personal lives, being an adult can be stressful. Do you get red angry bumps during times of stress? Stress causes our adrenal glands to get excited and produce more oil. It’s that extra oil which causes breakouts.


While the jury is still out as to whether dairy causes acne, a diet that is high in sugars tends to make people break out more. If you notice more breakouts when you drink a lot of milk or eat a lot of cheese, my recommendation is to try to minimize your dairy intake.


Hormones are another big reason for adult acne, especially in women. Common reasons for hormonal adult acne include birth control, IUDs, pregnancy, and menopause. Anything that causes the hormones to be imbalanced can cause the oils glands to overproduce oil and cause breakouts. Hormonal acne tends to look like large cysts around the chin, jawline, and mouth. Women tend to be more affected by hormonal acne than men because women’s bodies are more likely to be affected by continual hormone fluctuations.

Personal Products

If you are using multiple products on your face as part of a “12-step skincare routine,” you may be combining too many different products. Using too many products can definitely cause your skin to breakout. Not to mention that many skin care ingredients can lead to irritation and thus more breakouts. I am always in the camp of “the simpler your skin care routine, the better.” The quality of the ingredients you use is going to be more important than the number of products you pile on your face.

Also if you are putting greasy products on your face, they can cause your pores to get clogged and cause acne. In my experience, I’ve seen more acne on the forehead of men who use greasier hair styling products, such as hair mousse.

How to Find the Best Skincare Regimen for You

Adult acne is not the same as teenage acne. A lot of people will try to restart their teenage acne regimen to help with their adult acne. This may work for some, but not for all. Our skin tends to be sensitive as we get older, so many of the over the counter acne products are not going to be the right treatment for you.

My first piece of advice is to go see a dermatologist. There is no reason you have to try to figure out a good skincare regimen by yourself. It also important to find products and medications that work well with each other, so you don’t make other skin concerns worse. Everybody has different skin types and sensitivities, and seeing a dermatologist can help identify products that would be best for your skin. Finally, be patient! I’ve personally treated acne cases that go away using mild treatments on the first try and other cases that have required different methods to get it right. Just like anything else, being diligent and patient will provide you with the best lifelong results.

At NorCal Dermatology Group in Berkeley, we believe in the importance of simplicity in any skincare treatment or regimen. Our experience in skincare allowed us to custom tailor solutions for patients to help them maintain healthier, simpler skin.

At NorCal Dermatology Group, we provide:

  • Cutting-edge skincare treatments.
  • Weekend appointments.
  • Short wait times.
  • Personalized care and attention.
  • A wide range of accepted health plans.

To book an appointment or to learn more about NorCal Dermatology Group, call 510-646-8065 today!


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