Why Pimples Are Not Just a Teenage Problem

Pimples are common in teens, and it is expected most teens will have pimples at some point. Most people outgrow pimples once they get into their twenties, but the reality is that pimples can persist into one’s thirties and beyond. Some studies suggest that up to 30% of people between the ages of 20 and 30 have pimples, while about 20% of people between 30 and 50 have recurrent breakouts.

The causes of adult pimples are similar to those in adolescence, and so are the treatments and care. Below, we will explore why pimples can be a problem in adults and what you can do if you have them.

Presentation of Adult Pimples

For some people, the pimple breakouts they had as teenagers do not stop when they become adults. This is known as persistent acne and is more common in women than men.

Additionally, some people can start developing pimples and acne in adulthood, even if they never had this issue as teenagers. This is known as late-onset acne and can leave you looking like someone transported back to adolescence.

Adult acne, whether recurrent or late onset, tends to present around the jaw, chin, and mouth. That said, nodules and pimples can develop on the chest and back.

Causes of Pimples in Adults

There are several causes of pimples and acne in adulthood. We will explore them below.


Regardless of age, pimples are typically caused by a build-up of bacteria, dead cells, and sebum, the natural oil that lubricates the skin. This build-up is thought to be due to the hormonal changes common in adolescence and less common in adulthood.

These hormonal changes are more pronounced in women due to hormonal tides associated with pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.

These hormonal changes are one of the reasons oral birth control pills are prescribed to women with pimples in certain cases. Oral contraceptives contain progestin and estrogen that can help with the hormonal fluctuations caused by these cycles.

An important fact to know is that hormonal fluctuations do not necessarily lead to irregular or imbalanced hormone levels. True hormonal imbalance is quite rare but does cause acne.

It is most common in women with conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome that can present with other symptoms, such as infertility and absent or irregular periods.

Family History

We are all predisposed to certain illnesses and conditions; some are predisposed to pimples and acne. In some cases, those who develop pimples in adulthood also have a family member who has undergone something similar as a teenager or an adult.

The relative does not have to be close either, as they can be a distant one like a cousin, aunt, or uncle.


Some women report frequent breakouts when they stop taking oral contraceptives. Some experience it when using certain oral contraceptive formulations. Always talk to your doctor before starting or stopping oral contraceptives.

Also, talk to them immediately if you have frequent breakouts after you start them. They will find out what formulation you are using and give you a different one if you wish to continue with this birth control option.

Other medications can cause a pimple breakout, including epilepsy medication, corticosteroids, and antidepressants. Talk to your doctor immediately if they do.

Physical Stress

Your body responds to physical stress by producing certain hormones. In addition to these hormonal changes, physical stress can also cause inflammation, weakened immunity, increased sebum production, and more active hair follicles that can all lead to pimples.

The main stressors that do this and that you need to avoid include dehydration, lack of sleep, exposure to irritants, and extreme weather. Some illnesses can also cause physical stress that leads to pimples and breakouts.

Hair and Skin Products

Cosmetic products, especially oil-based ones, can clog your spores. Hair-care products, including pomades, gels, and sprays, can also have the same effects.

Consider the products you use and their ingredients if you use moisturizers, face creams, make-up, leave-in conditioners, styling products, and shampoos.

Because this happens with comedogenic products that contain ingredients more likely to block or clog your spores, consider switching to non-comedogenic skin and hair care products.

Adult Pimple Treatments

Pimple and acne treatments are highly personalized because we all live different lives and have different circumstances. Treatments like a facial will help cleanse, exfoliate, and extract. In addition, our Revitalize Back Facial can help if you suffer from back pimples.

Speak to us to learn more if pimples are causing you angst in adulthood.