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Adult and Acne: causes & how to treat it

Acne can still be a struggle in adulthood, here is why and how to treat it

Most people equate acne with adolescence. It’s true that this minor skin disease is typical of puberty. And yet the scope of the phenomenon extends far beyond the adolescent population. Dermatology practices are full of adults desperate to one day find a cure for their acne.
In reality, not many people are spared from acne! The most common skin disease, acne is thought to affect 80% of adolescents and 25% of adults1 over the age of 25, a group in which the disease has been sharply increasing in the last few years and Irish people seem to be even more prone to adult acne than others.
So why some adults develop acne and what are the appropriate treatments them?
1. General information website of the French Dermatology Society consulted in July 2018

The profile of adults with acne

Overall, women are more affected than men. Acne tends to affect the face in women and the back and neck in men. This difference in the location of pimples explains why acne has a more significant impact on the quality of life and self-image of women
The influence of hormones is real for many women who observe acne flare-ups right before their period begins. The production of androgens, which are male hormones involved in acne, peaks during the premenstrual period. However, experts suggest that there are many other responsible factors.
What are the signs of adult acne?
Adult acne is often very different from adolescent acne. There are fewer blemishes, but they are often inflamed and are located primarily on the lower face (jaws and chin) in women and on the back in men. 
  • 1 > Blackheads and microcysts
  • 2/3 > Papules (small red spots), which sometimes progress to pustules (yellow head) or nodules (deep cysts). Women often say they have the impression that the same pimples reappear in the same place: in reality, these are various stages in the progression of the same lesion.


The profile of adults with acne
What are the causes of adult acne

What are the causes of adult acne?

For some women, the dermatologist will look for signs of excess androgen production that might explain the persistence of pimples and skin blemishes. Such signs can include excessive hair growth, irregular or absent periods, weight gain, and hair loss. Only a blood test can confirm the diagnosis, which is relatively uncommon.
Chronic immune system stimulation 
Another hypothesis is the development, in the pilo-sebaceous follicles, of strains with resistance to the Cutibacterium acnes bacterium. This pro-inflammatory bacterium is thought to maintain chronic inflammation, continuously stimulating the immune system. This inflammatory dimension is typical of adult acne in women.
The role of the skin microbiome
We know that the skin is colonised by good and bad bacteria and that healthy skin largely depends on the balance of this skin flora or microbiome. Therefore, in order to respect it, you should always use adapted product for your cleansing routine: it is important to remove the impurities without perturbing the balance of your skin. For this, have a look at Sebium H2O micellar water, formulated with the purest ingredients and which pH is similar to the one of your skin.

What factors contribute to the development of acne?

  • Unsuitable cosmetics, sun, diet, etc. can come into play. Smoking also promotes this phenomenon: over 41% of smokers have acne versus 9% of non-smokers. Lastly, the relationship between stress and acne as well as pollution and acne is currently being studied and may explain the surge in cases of adult acne.
  • Genetics may also play a role. Indeed, when there is a family history, it is common to see this type of skin problem appear in adulthood.
  • Lastly, some medicated treatments such as contraceptives, hormones and antidepressants can cause pimples and other blemishes to appear.

You may also wonder about acne-prone skin…

Can you have acne in adulthood if you never had in adolescence?

Many female patients have always had pimples since adolescence while for others, the problem developed later on in life. Other women had adolescent acne that disappeared but has recurred in adulthood. In parallel, the manifestations of acne change over time: different types of blemishes develop in adulthood, and adolescence and they are not necessarily found in the same areas of the body.

Our best advice to take care of your acne-prone skin


Use Sebium H2O Micellar Water to gently get rid of your make-up and impurities on the skin.
For a respectful double cleansing routine, use Sebium H2O along with Sebium Foaming Gel, which also purifies the skin.


Improve your skin appearance by using  Sebium Pore Refiner.
Avoid the rebound effect by applying Photoderm AKN Mat SPF30 before and during sun exposure.
Treat and moisturise with Sebium Global or Sebium Global Cover for effective coverage of redness and blemishes in the day.
Do not smoke or stay near smokers.
Avoid sugar and dairy products.
Protect your skin from the sun.
Don't let your skin be in contact with a source of germs: wash your hands and cellphone before getting them in contact with your face.