Have you ever looked in the mirror and declared, “I should not have wrinkles
and pimples on the same face!” If so, you’re not alone. Acne: it isn’t just for
teenagers. In fact, many people are plagued by adult acne into their 30s, 40s,
and even 50s.
According to a survey done by dermatologists at the University of
The symptoms of acne are:
Persistent, recurrent red spots or swelling on the skin, generally known as pimples; the swelling may become inflamed and fill with pus. They typically appear on the face, chest, shoulders, neck, or upper portion of the back.
Dark spots with open pores at the center (blackheads)
Tiny white bumps under the skin that have no obvious opening (whiteheads)
Red swellings or lumps (known as papules) that are visibly filled with pus
In their 20s, 50.9% of women and 42.5% of men in their 20s reported
experiencing adult acne
In their 30s, 35.2% of women and 20.1% of men reported adult acne
In their 40s, 26.3% of women and 12% of men reported experiencing acne
Even in their 50s, 15.3% of women and 7.3% of men reported experiencing
You may have noticed something about those numbers: they’re much higher in
women than in men. That is probably because at any age, acne is hormonally
related, and the fluctuations of a woman’s cycle can trigger breakouts.
How does adult acne differ from teen acne?
Adult acne differs markedly from the pimples of your teen years, both in how
it appears and how it’s treated.
“In teens, you’ll mostly see hundreds or thousands of tiny bumps,
blackheads, or whiteheads on the skin of the face, especially the forehead,
along with occasional cysts on the chest and back,” says Amy Derick, MD, a
fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, who practices in Great
Barrington, Ill. “That’s because teens’ skin tends to be a little stickier and
they’re more likely than adults to get clogged pores.”
In adults, acne is more likely to appear on the lower part of the face,
especially around the mouth and jawline. “It’s usually deeper nodules or red
papules in those areas,” Derick says. “The fine little bumps of teen acne can
still happen in adulthood, but it’s much less common.”
What can adults do about acne?
If you’re troubled by more than the occasional breakout, don’t try to treat
yourself at the skin-care aisle of the local pharmacy.