Why do I get acne as an adult?

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You pay rent or a mortgage, you’ve got a job, you can drive, vote, drink, or eat ice cream for breakfast if you want…you’re a full-fledged adult gosh darnit! Yet those pesky pimples can make you feel like a hormonal teen all over again. Well, here’s how grown-ups deal with it.

Is it common?

Absolutely! If you’ve got adult acne, you are far from alone. One in five adults between 25 and 44 get breakouts that can range from the occasional pimple to widespread, deep and painful spots. Women in particular are likely to get acne throughout their lives. More than 50% of women in their 20s, and 35% of those in their 30s still struggle to get clear skin.

This is particularly common around menstruation. About 63% of acne-prone women experience a flare up a week before the onset of their period.

Adult acne vs. teen acne

  • Triggers: Teens will develop acne because of hormonal changes associated with puberty. This leads to changes in the oil production on their skin. Adult acne can also be caused by hormones, particularly among pregnant women, but can also be brought on by certain medicines, cosmetics, or stress.
  • Location: Teens mainly break out on their face and neck (perfect for yearbook photos) while adults tend to get acne on their back, chest, and shoulders (ideal for bikini season). When adults do get facial acne, it will likely appear on the lower part of the face — around the jawline. In teens, acne takes a more scattershot appearance, finding its way across all parts of the face.

Acne when you’re TTC

Many common creams and medications used to treat acne aren’t safe for a woman trying to conceive. Some over-the-counter treatments and prescribed medications can cause difficulties with conception, or even birth defects. If you’re not using birth control, it is recommended that you let your dermatologist know so they can prescribe a treatment that won’t pose any risks.

If you don’t have a dermatologist, or simply don’t want to wait for weeks to get an appointment, you can try downloading the Spruce app*. Spruce is like a health clinic in your pocket. You sign-in, answer a few questions, take some pictures of your skin, and send them off. You’ll get a response within 24 hours from a board-certified dermatologist with recommended treatment and even a prescription if necessary. An appointment only costs $40, which is the same or cheaper than most co-pays.

What can I do about it?

A lot actually. Adult hormonal acne is absolutely treatable and there are a range of strategies you can employ to get your skin clear again. If you get the occasional blemish, you could try some over-the-counter, do-it-yourself (TTC-friendly) topicals. However, for more stubborn acne, this approach might not work. You may need prescription treatments and for that you’ll need a dermatologist. Many women see positive changes after just a few months of prescription treatments.

If you’ve got problem acne, a Spruce dermatologist can help. Their app is super easy to use and full of useful resources for any skincare questions you may have. They can even help if you’ve already got a skincare regimen by reviewing it and tweaking it if necessary. Tap the button below to download the Spruce app and learn more. Give it a try – your first visit is free if you tap here or apply the promo code OVIA3 at checkout!

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*Spruce visits are currently available in CA, FL, NC, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, NJ and MI with more states coming soon. Get notified when Spruce is available for you.

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