Many of us have experienced the frustration of a spot breakout, whether it’s one single, painful spot or a cluster of unsightly pimples cropping up out of nowhere. These outbreaks of spots can be both painful and irritating, as well as damaging to our self-esteem and confidence. We all hear about the many different remedies, both scientific and home remedies, that others swear by.

But it’s uncommon for us to think about exactly what’s causing these spots in the first place so that we can strive to reduce their chances of appearing. We’ve put together this list of unusual causes of adult acne to help you identify what may be causing your own breakouts.

Hormonal Fluctuations

When we think about hormones making us spotty, we often think about the days of puberty, and surely that can’t be happening to us as adults? However, our hormone levels change across the entire course of our lives. Yes, puberty is probably the most substantial, natural change in our hormone levels. However, both middle age and old age see these levels change.

For example, men will naturally produce less testosterone as they get older, and women experience significant changes to their hormone levels during menopause. There are medications and supplements you can take that can help to rebalance these levels and reduce the effects of these changes. Speak to your GP to find out more about this course of action.

Adult Acne from hormonesMedical Conditions

Underlying and undiagnosed health problems could be a cause of adult acne. Although this is rare, it may still be worth speaking to your GP to rule out any of these potential problems. If you’re experiencing other concerning symptoms, relay these to your doctor, and you may find that treatment for this medical condition will also clear up symptoms such as acne. For women, PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome can play havoc with your skin, and it may require a few tests to get to the bottom of this for a diagnosis.


At the same time, the medications we take for certain illnesses and medical conditions can also be the thing that’s causing our acne in the first place. Medicines are often labelled as causing a plethora of different side effects, and while most serious side effects are likely to be a rarity, checking your medication for common side effects like acne breakouts may be worthwhile.

Speaking to your doctor about the medication you’re taking may also shed some light on your acne troubles, and there may even be alternatives that you can take which may cause less or no acne at all.

stress causing Adult AcneStress

One of the biggest issues that many of us contend with today is stress. Today, mental health is becoming a significant focus within our society, and for a good reason. The impact of us shining a brighter light on the causes and effects of stress and poor mental health in our personal lives and the workplace is helping us to better understand what we can do to prevent and remedy these problems.

Stress is actually a leading cause of poor skin quality, and it actually links back to hormone balance. When we get stressed, the number of androgens in our body increases, which end up causing these acne breakouts. If you’re experiencing a significant amount of stress in your day-to-day life, it may be worth finding some ways to reduce it via meditation and wellness practices.

Quitting Smoking

This may come as a surprise to you, but if you’ve recently quit smoking and have noticed a sudden increase in the number of spots appearing on your skin, you may not have linked the two together. Smoking is known to cause poor skin quality. Smoking tobacco can significantly expedite the body’s ageing process, causing the skin to sag and wrinkle much faster than that of a non-smoker.

But when a smoker quits, the stress they may experience could then cause spot breakouts. It might feel as though you can’t win here when it comes to improving your skin, but while quitting smoking may cause acne, the long-term effects of removing tobacco from your life are immeasurably great, potentially adding years to your life and helping you feel far healthier. One way in which quitters can reduce the impact of stress and spot breakouts when ditching cigarettes is by making the process more gradual, allowing your body to get used to this change, such as by using a nicotine vape pen or patches so that you can still get your fix.


While not everything can be blamed on our genetics, unfortunately, the quality of your skin can be. If your parents and grandparents were pre-disposed to breakouts like this, it’s highly likely that you may have gotten it from them. This will be genetic hormone imbalances or a higher level of oil production in the skin. You’ll be unhappy to know that there’s just nothing you can do about this except finding remedies where possible.

While we’ve already spoken about sorting out hormone levels, there are some things you can do to reduce other factors that cause increased oil in your skin when it comes to oil production. Fast food is a top contender for causing oily skin, so eating a healthier diet along with using skin care products that reduce the amount of oil on the surface of your skin are the best places to start. Speak to your doctor for more advice on this, as it could be a much more complicated process.

travelling on the plane can cause skin issuesTravelling Abroad

Have you ever found that once you make it off the plane and spend your first day and night at your holiday destination that all of a sudden, a spot or two just appear out of nowhere? It’s easy to want to blame this on bad luck or some sort of curse, but it’s actually very simple. A new environment, including air and water quality, different temperatures than you’re used to, as well as humidity, can send acne spiralling.

Your skin just isn’t adapted to this new place and the external factors that come with it. Unfortunately, unless you’re a very lucky person, you’re going to be returning home within a few weeks, or so and so your skin won’t have time to get used to this new environment anyway. Many also find that their spots appear once they return too, which could be a combination of these changes as well as the stress of no longer being on holiday, or if you’re not a fan of the travelling process.

Skincare And Hair Products

You might think that your new, expensive skincare products are going to solve all your skin problems. However, in some cases, these can exacerbate your acne troubles. When searching for a new skincare routine, it’s best to find products that are good for sensitive skin, as well as those that contain no oil. Remember that bad skincare habits can also cause problems too.

The same goes for hair care products, especially if you have long hair. Oily, irritating shampoo and conditioner residue can rub along your skin, irritating it and causing spots to appear. As well as this, when you wash your hair in the shower, those products can run down your face, causing problems as they go. Try to avoid letting these products run down your face and instead wash them out of your hair towards the back of your head instead.