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March 15, 2021

Adult Acne – Why Am I Still Breaking Out?


One of the first things we might have thought about when reaching adulthood was that we would not have to worry about acne anymore. Imagine our horror to realise that acne is something that still happens even after puberty. Depending on our diet, lifestyle and the environment around us, we will most probably see a pimple or two from time to time even more so for women when we experience our monthly bleeding.

However, we can avoid a bad breakout by paying close attention to our daily routines. What we surround ourselves with and the stress we face every day plays a major factor in the health of our skin.

In this article, we will cover the major causes of adult acne, how to minimise them and also what treatments are available for them.

What Are Some Of The Causes of Adult Acne?

Sometimes the simplest reason for the sudden breakouts might just be that your pores are clogged. Pores are not your enemy and actually perform an important role in the skin by keeping your skin soft and protected. However, once clogged by dead skin cells, excess oil, dirt and/or possibly bacteria, pimples will appear on the skin surface.

If this is the case, it is relatively simple to address. It might mean that the facial cleanser you use might not be working effectively or that you might need to exfoliate more regularly.


Menstruation can cause fluctuation in hormonal levels that are normal, hence, acne is expected the closer you are to having your period. The increase in progesterone during your periods after ovulation is related to acne and can increase the sebum production on your skin.

But hormones are not just related to menstruation cycles. Androgens like testosterone can increase sebum production as well and can contribute to hormonal acne. Because your hormones are fluctuating, hormone-related acne usually pops around the time of your period, during or after pregnancy, during premenopause or menopause and when you start or stop using hormonal birth control.


Certain foods that are fried, loaded with sugar such as fast food and pizza could increase the frequency of acne breakouts. Other items such as chocolate, caffeine or dairy could also be a culprit in the latest appearance of pimples.

Now that we have covered some of the main possible causes of the acne breakout you might be facing as an adult, let’s get into the treatment options.


Living in Singapore, air pollution can affect a great many things including our skin. Besides UV radiation, air pollution throws a lot of dirt on our skin. The excess amount of dirt on our faces increases the percentage of pores being clogged and the increase in acne.

Cleansing your face after time outside can decrease the risk of acne.

Using the Wrong Skin Care Products

Not knowing what type of skin you have (oily, dry, normal, combination) can lead you to invest in the wrong skincare products. What works for the people around you might not work for you simply because everyone has a different type of skin.

If you have oily or combination skin, using water-based products or oil-free products can help to decrease the chances of acne. But it is always important to know that if you have an oily skin type, it doesn’t mean your products have to be stripping away your natural oils or that your face should feel dry after a facial cleanse. In fact, making sure your skin is hydrated is arguably more important than using the “right” product for you.


Stress is a constant fixture in our lives and there’s nothing inherently bad about it. Knowing when you’re undergoing a huge amount of stress can prepare you to expect acne and to treat it when it happens.

The hormone cortisol has a strong link to acne as our bodies create cortisol under chronic stress. It can be produced in our hair follicles and different types of skin cells. Cortisol has also been referred to as a stress hormone but it’s also important in helping to regulate the different body processes we undergo. Some of which are the immune system, digestive system and neurological systems that can affect our moods.

However, the true link between acne and stress is when cortisol is being over-produced which causes issues with our body processes and our skin.

Too Frequent or Intense Cleansing  

One of the first things some people might do when they’ve had an acne breakout is to over wash the skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you might feel like you only need to cleanse once a day but most of us might probably need to cleanse our faces twice a day. If you’re cleansing your face more than that, it might cause the skin to overcompensate and create even more oil to hydrate the face.

Another common mistake is to exfoliate the face more than usual. Some exfoliating products can be too harsh on our skin and they can even damage or exacerbate existing acne. Depending on your skin type, you should be exfoliating not more than three times a week.

Different Treatment Options

Oral Medications

If your acne is severe and topical creams have failed to make a difference, you might want to consider oral medications. We would recommend consulting with a dermatologist as they will be able to prescribe the right oral medications based on your skin condition. These medications will help to manipulate hormonal levels and are helpful in preventing outbreaks.

Spot Treatments

If you’re looking to treat a pimple quickly, spot treatments that contain acne-fighting ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide work by killing the bacteria responsible for acne. However, it can be harsh and may not be suitable for those with sensitive skin.

Cambridge Medical Gold PTT Acne Treatment

Cambridge Medical offers a solution in the form of Gold PTT Acne Treatment that utilises Photothermal Therapy. We would recommend taking a look at this treatment if you are facing adult acne and topical creams and oral medication have not been yielding much success in the reduction of acne.

Photothermal therapy makes use of electromagnetic radiation to target acne areas. This prevents damage to surrounding tissues and will reduce sebum production, helping to cleanse the skin of built-up dirt, oil and bacteria.

How the treatment is carried out:

  • Deep cleansing with the treatment’s AquaJet Facial
  • Application of gold nanoparticles
  • Penetration with 24K gold using LDM Tech
  • Activation of Gold PTT using PICO Laser
  • Omega light low-level laser therapy

For more information, visit our Gold PTT Acne Treatment page. We would recommend consulting with Dr Lee to see if the treatment is suitable for you.

Cambridge Medical Neogen Plasma Skin Regeneration

Another treatment Cambridge Medical offers is the Neogen Plasma Skin Regeneration treatment. It uses plasma to deliver heat to targeted areas that will not harm the surrounding tissues. This treatment helps to treat many different skin problems at the same time such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, wrinkles, enlarged pores, dark circles, etc.

Neogen Plasma is painless and quick and only takes 10 to 20 minutes per session and there is no downtime. We would recommend consulting with the doctor to ensure you are eligible for this treatment.

We hope this article has helped settle some of your acne woes and given you sufficient information regarding potential acne treatments.


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