Why Do I Still Have Acne in My 30s?

Jun 07, 2023
Why Do I Still Have Acne in My 30s?
You didn’t like having chronic acne breakouts when you were a teen, but many of your friends were in the same boat. So why are you still dealing with pimples and blemishes in your thirties? Learn all about adult acne here.

If you dealt with chronic acne breakouts throughout adolescence, you may have consoled yourself with the thought that once you reached adulthood, the problem would subside as your skin matured and became less “oily.” 

But even as you continued getting pimples through your twenties, you may have thought your breakouts were an ongoing byproduct of your still youthful (or quite possibly finicky) skin. But now that you’re in your thirties, and your skin isn’t nearly as clear as you’d hoped, you’re probably wondering: what gives?

As frustrating as adult acne can be, it’s also common: Many people in their thirties, forties, and even fifties experience regular blemish breakouts — and stress, hormonal fluctuations, or genetics may be to blame.

Here, our board-certified experts at Florida Dermatology Associates explain why acne may persist into adulthood and explore the possibility that your “adult acne” isn’t acne.

Here is how acne develops — at any age 

Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that develops when hair follicles just below the surface of your skin become blocked with natural skin oils (sebum) and dead epidermal cells. These plugged pores trigger the outbreak of pus-filled surface lesions — commonly called pimples, zits, blackheads, or whiteheads. 

Acne can become deeply inflamed when p. acnes, the bacteria living on your skin, make their way inside oil-clogged pores and begin to multiply. Whether you’re 13 or 30, all cases of acne emerge from the same scenario: 

  1. Your skin produces more sebum than normal 
  2. Your pores get clogged with oil and “sticky” skin cells
  3. Excess skin bacteria can inflame acne further 

Adult acne refers to chronic acne that continues or emerges after age 25. While it can affect anyone, women are more likely to experience routine breakouts in their thirties, forties, and beyond. 

This is likely due to female-specific factors that can contribute to increased skin oil production and acne breakouts, shifting hormone levels during each menstrual cycle and through perimenopause, or the years-long transition into menopause.

Other factors that can help set the stage for acne breakouts (at any age) include:

  • Daily use of pore-clogging hair, skin, or makeup products 
  • Low-grade systemic inflammation caused by chronic stress
  • Unhealthy, pro-inflammatory eating patterns (i.e., sugar)

Bad habits like popping pimples, picking at blemishes, or scrubbing your skin too hard when you wash your face can worsen an existing breakout, as can environmental irritants like high humidity or air pollution.

Other skin conditions that look like acne

If you’ve struggled with acne since you were a teenager, you may feel pretty confident that the pimple-like breakouts you’re experiencing now, in your thirties, are more of the same. But there’s a good chance they’re a sign of another condition entirely — especially if you had a period of clear skin in your twenties and your acne seems to have returned out of nowhere.

Many skin conditions look and feel like acne; some acne-like skin disorders can be a window into a more serious systemic health condition. Chronic skin conditions often initially mistaken for acne include:

  • Rosacea (also called acne rosacea)
  • Keratosis pilaris, or “chicken skin”
  • Perioral dermatitis, an acne-like rash
  • Hidradenitis suppurative lesions

Rosacea, in particular, is commonly confused for adult acne. Women are more likely to develop this incurable inflammatory skin disorder, which often appears for the first time after age 30

Persistent acne can also be a symptom of an underlying health condition like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or another endocrine disorder that affects your hormone levels. In such cases, managing it is often the best way to clear your skin and reduce breakouts.

Getting to the bottom of your breakouts

Whether you’ve lived with acne for years or just started breaking out again in your thirties, schedule a thorough skin assessment at Florida Dermatology Associates. 

By reviewing your medical history, considering your current health status, and evaluating your acne-like lesions visually, we can get to the bottom of your breakouts. If necessary, we may recommend blood testing to check for hormonal imbalances that could be part of the problem.

We can help you get clear, healthy skin

Whether you have acne or it turns out that some other hormonal or inflammatory condition is behind your breakouts, we can help you get the problem under control. 

No matter what’s behind your acne-like breakouts, an individually tailored treatment plan can help clear your complexion, improve skin texture and health, minimize breakouts, and prevent irreversible damage. Acne, rosacea, PCOS, and other conditions that trigger breakouts can’t necessarily get resolved but can get managed with the right approach.

If you’re ready to get clearer skin, we can help. Call your nearest Florida Dermatology Associates office in Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Cocoa, Melbourne, or Titusville, Florida, today, or use our online booking feature to schedule an appointment any time.