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Adult Acne: Why Am I Still Getting Pimples and Acne? | Part I

Doctor, doctor! I am no longer a teenager but why am I still getting pimples and acne? | BeautyFresh

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In this three-part special, Dr. Ngui talks about Adult Acne and how to treat it.

Today, we will focus on the definition of acne and their causes.


“Doctor, doctor! I am no longer a teenager but why am I still getting pimples and acne?"

Q: What is acne?

A: Acne is a common skin condition that is characterized by whiteheads, blackheads, greasiness and red pimples on the face, neck, back and upper chest. These areas have the greatest population of oil glands. In people affected by acne, their oil glands are overactive and this leads to the clogging of pores and oil glands with oil and dead skin cells, bacterial overgrowth and inflammation of the oil glands.

Q: I am in my thirties and I noticed recently that I have pimples on my face. Isn’t acne a condition that only teenagers (going through puberty) get?

A: While it is true that acne occurs mostly during the teenage years (affecting over 90% of teenagers), acne during the adult years is becoming more and more prevalent these days. Adult acne affects women more often than men, occurring in 1 out of 4 men and as high as 1 out of 2 women. The incidence of adult acne decreases with advancing age. For example, it drops to 1 in 4 for women in their forties. Furthermore, one does not need to have teenage acne to experience adult acne.

Q: Why does acne occur in adults?

A: The exact cause of adult is not fully understood. However here are some of the factors triggering and aggravating adult acne:

  • Hormonal fluctuation, especially in women

  • Lifestyle changes and stress

  • Usage of certain make-up formulations causing clogging of the pores

  • Medication like anti-epilepsy drugs, mood stabilizer drugs and steroids. Examples of steroids are birth control pills, anabolic steroids for muscle building, steroids for managing long term inflammatory conditions.

  • Medical conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

  • Genetic tendency – individuals with a family history of acne are at a higher risk of developing acne.

Q: Do diet and lifestyle play a role in the occurrence of acne?

A: There is some evidence that suggests that consuming a lot of high glycaemic index food (ie. refined carbohydrate, sugar and starch) may aggravate acne. As mentioned earlier, lifestyle and work stress can aggravate acne. Using heavy makeup and leaving them on overnight can increase clogging of the pores and in turn aggravate acne.


About Dr. Nicholas Ngui

Dr. Nicholas Ngui is a highly experienced general practitioner with a special focus on Aesthetic Dermatology with 19 years of clinical practice experience and 12 years of pharmaceutical industry experience behind him. As a pharmaceutical medical director, he was involved in physician and patient education and clinical research with a strong emphasis on ethical practice, treatment compliance and patient safety. Dr. Ngui now practices at Neu Age Clinic in Outram and is known for specialty services in Acne & Acne Scar Treatment, Pigmentation Treatment, Anti-Aging Skin Rejuvenation, Laser Hair Removal, Tattoo Removal and Skin Tag/Mole Removal. If you have a skin-related concern and would like to find out a bit more about it, you can visit for more information.

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