Adult acne is often caused by the overproduction of sebum, an oil created by the skin's sebaceous glands. It travels up hair follicles to the surface of your skin to act as a lubricant for the hair and skin. When excess sebum is produced, it can mix with dead skin cells to clog pores, trapping bacteria underneath. Pimples occur when the trapped bacteria -- typically Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) -- cause inflammation or infection within the blocked pore [source: Mayo Clinic].
Sebum can be overproduced because of an excess of androgens, which are male hormones found in both men and women that stimulate the sebaceous glands. If male and female hormones aren't balanced, acne can occur [source: Libov].Though hormonal swings are often connected to puberty, the body's levels of testosterone and estrogen constantly shift throughout adulthood. Women are especially vulnerable to these fluctuations. About half of all women have increased acne and facial oil the week before their periods [source: AAD]. Women also encounter more acne problems during pregnancy and menopause [source: Libov]. Androgens can also be produced as a bodily response to stress or as a side effect to certain medications such as anticonvulsants, sobriety drugs and birth control pills [source AcneNet].
The many influences of adult acne might seem overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to try to control it. Read on to learn how to treat adult acne.