Get Your Hormones in Check
Breakouts often coincide with hormonal changes, including those associated with adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause [Jackson-Cannady]. Hormonal acne usually appears on the chin or along the jaw line, and it can often be deep and cystic in nature [Giglio]. You may notice that it comes and goes at predictable times of the month.
As women age, their levels of androgens, male hormones that can overstimulate the oil glands and make pore-clogging skin cells shed faster, tend to rise [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. That's why older women sometimes feel like they're reliving adolescence -- or, if they never broke out as teenagers, experiencing it for the first time.
Rather than antibiotics, retinoids or topical treatments like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, hormonal acne responds best to hormone therapies, including combination oral contraceptives and spironolactone, an anti-androgen medication [source: James]. Just be sure to let your doctor know if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive, since these situations limit your treatment options.
In some women, acne can signal an underlying hormonal disorder, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). If you're a woman with persistent adult acne, ask your doctor whether it might make sense to test for PCOS and other hormone imbalances [source: Rettner].