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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What causes adult onset acne?

    Related Topics
    I went through my whole life with clear skin, great skin and then at age 27 I started breaking out in big blind pimples. Why is this?
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    A/Prof. John Su

    Dermatologist (Skin Specialist), Paediatrician

    Paediatric dermatologist, Senior lecturer at University of Melbourne and Monash University View Profile

    Acne most commonly comes on in teenaged years, in particular between 15 and 19, but the hormone changes in our bodies vary from person to person. There are genetic factors that predispose us to acne. Sometimes there can be imbalances in hormones. For example, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome can trigger acne.

    Acne can also be caused by oily products on the skin and a lot of women will use more cosmetic products as they get older, and often that will cause blockage of the pores and predispose to acne. Paradoxically, when you try to cover it up with more makeup that can make it worse. So, using oil-free, non-comodegenic is important. A lot of toners and other preparations are also irritants on the skin and complicate things.

    Occasionally you can get other underlying conditions and medications which can trigger acne, but it is not uncommon for people who don't have any identifiable pathology to get their worse acne after puberty, and a small percentage of people without identifiable problems can still be getting acne even towards 40.

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