4 Reasons Adult Acne is a Thing

by | Feb 4, 2018 | Women's Health | 1 comment

You’ve just started a new job and you want to impress your boss, but those miniature volcanoes on your face seem to be multiplying. You haven’t had these since you were a teenager and you’re worried that everyone is taking bets on which volcano will erupt first, instead of listening to the presentation that you’re giving.

You knew that adulthood meant more bills and wrinkles, but acne!? You’ve got to be kidding me!

Acne vulgaris, the most common type of acne, affects areas with the highest number of sebaceous (oil) glands, which is the face, neck, chest, and back. There are 4 contributing factors to acne vulgaris: 1) clogging of the pore with loose skin cells, 2) excessive oil production (often triggered by androgens – the “male” hormones), 3) activity of Propionibacterium acnes, and 4) inflammation. These factors lead to whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples.

There are many things in life that aggravate acne, but here are the four big reasons you’re experiencing acne that I see in my patients.

1. Your Gut is in a Rut

Your gut, i.e. your stomach and intestines, are responsible for extracting the nutrients from the food that you put into your body so that they can be used for healthy cell growth and development. Furthermore, there are billions of bacteria in your gut that help to maintain an environment that is anti-inflammatory and hospitable to the breakdown of this food. Nutrients that are valuable to the health of your skin include zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

If you’re constantly experiencing bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, or anything that seems “not right” in your gut, then you’re likely not getting the nutrients that you need from your food to promote healthy skin.

2. Stress, hormones, and acne. Oh my!

Stress induces an inflammatory response in the body that triggers pores to become enlarged and to sometimes even break. This causes redness and for the pores to become susceptible to bacteria, contributing to the formation of pus.

Additionally, stress induces our adrenal glands to produce more androgens, also known as the “male” hormones. Androgens embody testosterone, DHEA, and DHT, and although they are found in higher quantities in males, they are also a normal part of female physiology. Androgens excessively stimulate the oil glands, causing too much oil to be produced. This leads to clogged pores and acne.

Specific hormonal conditions associated with acne are PCOS, menstrual hormonal fluctuations, menopause, and pregnancy.

3. Get Back to Your Skincare Basics

Due to the fact that clogged pores can lead to acne, not exfoliating enough can leave dead skin cells and oil behind, plugging the pores and causing inflammation. On the other hand, exfoliating too much can lead to an excessive sloughing of the skin and increased oil production. Oil is produced on our skin to provide a protective barrier from the air and guards against dryness. Excessive exfoliation of the skin will get rid of any and all oil on the skin. The skin will notice this and overcompensate by producing too much oil.

Bacteria can build up in your makeup, makeup brushes, and makeup sponges and become deposited in your pores. Clean your makeup utensils regularly and pay attention to expiry dates to prevent spreading bacteria around your face. Furthermore, using products that are oil-free, non-comedogenic, and water-based will prevent pores from clogging.

4. Your sweet tooth is getting the best of your face

It has been shown that a diet containing high-glycemic index foods (sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods) is highly associated with acne[1].  Sugar and high-glycemic index foods can lead to insulin spikes, and elevated insulin causes excessive androgen production[2]. Also, changes in insulin can lead to excessive skin cell sloughing.

Although you may feel dismayed at the prospect of having acne and wrinkles at the same time, you’re not alone. I’ve seen acne in my office many times, and with a few simple tweaks in beauty routines alongside some serious gut repair or hormone balancing, I’ve seen amazing results.

If you’re ready to get started on improving your complexion, give us a call to book a complimentary skin health assessment. With this assessment we can see any sun damage and analyze the nutritional health of your skin. With this information, we can begin an approach that is individualized to your skin’s specific requirements.


[1]       A.A. Çerman, E. Aktaş, İ.K. Altunay, J.E. Arıcı, A. Tulunay, F.Y. Ozturk, Dietary glycemic factors, insulin resistance, and adiponectin levels in acne vulgaris, J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 75 (2016) 155–162. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2016.02.1220.[2]       A. Kucharska, A. Szmurło, B. Sińska, Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris, Adv. Dermatol. Allergol. Dermatol. Alergol. 33 (2016) 81–86. doi:10.5114/ada.2016.59146.


1 Comment

  1. Duncan

    Sweet. I once had a dermatologist tell me that sugar and dairy didn’t effect my acne. Love that there is research on this now.


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