12 common causes of adult acne flare-ups

adult acne cause

Adult acne flare-ups annoy a big percentage of women in their 20s and 30s. Would you like to control your adult acne?
Check out these common causes of adult acne flare-ups.

Wrong cosmetics:

You might be using the wrong products. Switch to oil-free and non-comedogenic products that won’t clog your pores.

Wrong oral contraceptives:

Birth control pills containing small amounts of estrogen and larger amounts of progesterone can make your acne worse.

Stopping oral contraceptives:

Discontinuation of birth control pills can often result in acne breakouts.

The way you cleanse your face:

Excessive face-washing (More than three times a day) or the frequent use of "harsh" exfoliative cleansers can cause a breakout. Always be gentle with your skin.

Touching Pimples:

Rubbing, scratching, or “picking at” your face will increase your number of active pimples and put you at risk for long-term scars. Don’t do it!

Menstrual cycle:

Do you have deep (And sometimes painful) acne cysts under your chin and jawline? A fluctuation in hormones, like the change in hormones before a menstrual cycle, maybe the cause.


Oral medications can cause your skin to break out. Drugs used in the treatment of epilepsy and drugs containing iodine can cause an acne flare-up, too.

Medications are known to cause acne or make acne worse include:

Halogens (iodides, chlorides, bromides, halothane)
Antiepileptics (carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital)
Antituberculous drugs (ethionamide, isoniazid, rifampicin)
Antidepressants (lithium, amoxapine)
Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors
Biologic agents, particularly TNF alpha inhibitors (rare)
Azathioprine and ciclosporin

Muscle-building hormones:

Take whey protein? It’s is proven to cause acne. If you need these protein supplements, use plant-based (and whey-free) products.

Your Toothpaste:

Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride is one of the causes of acne pimples around the mouth and lips.

What You Put In Your Hair:

Excessive use of hair gels and creams are a common cause of forehead acne. Try not to use too much product near your hairline.

Junk food:

Greasy foods and snacks and spicy foods can get oil around your mouth — if it stays there, it can cause a breakout.


When you're stressed, your adrenal gland releases make the stress hormone cortisol. Unfortunately, these hormones will also make your acne worse.

More info:

Adult-onset acne: prevalence, impact, and management challenges

9 tips to prevent adult acne breakouts

Best natural skin-clearing supplements for adult acne

To find the right acne treatments for your unique skin, take the free skin assessment by clicking here.

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