Why Do Women Get Acne in Their 40s?

by Kirsten Nunez

Contrary to popular belief, acne isn’t something that only teenagers experience. Women who are in their 40s can also get acne from hormonal imbalances. According to scientific studies, women are much more likely to get adult acne than men.

Types of Acne

Acne can be non-inflammatory or inflammatory. Some people might experience one but not the other; others have both. Everyone is different.

Non-inflammatory acne is multiple tiny bumps caused by an overproduction of oil in the sebaceous glands, also known as hyperseborrhea. The accumulation of oil causes the skin to look shiny and greasy. This type of acne isn't usually painful, and is often on the forehead and chin.

Inflammatory acne includes hard nodules and cystic pimples. Like non-inflammatory acne, it is caused by overproduction of oil, but is rooted deeper into the skin. It is quite painful and might even feel like a bruise. This type of acne surfaces on the lower third of the face, as well as the jawline and neck. Sometimes, it can be on the upper back, chest or shoulders.

Keeping your skin clean and using proper skin care can help keep acne in check. Over-the-counter products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid are made to heal and prevent pimples. These treatments work by unblocking pores that have been clogged with oil. Products with tea tree oil, which kills bacteria, are another option. These medications may dry out the skin and require extra moisturizing to prevent flaking and irritation. It is also best to stay out of the sun while using over-the-counter acne treatments.

Making a home remedy can also help heal acne. A pimple can be dried out with toothpaste or iced to reduce swelling. Natural face masks or pastes made of ingredients such as baking soda, honey and apple cider vinegar can also get rid of zits.

A dermatologist can also provide further professional care and prescribe stronger medication. He might have you visit the gynecologist for hormone regulation with birth control or hormone replacement therapy.

Stress

Stress is a common cause of acne. People of any age can experience stress, including women in their 40s. This might be due to work, family or other responsibilities. When we are burned out or worried, our bodies react by producing higher levels of a hormone called testosterone. This hormone encourages the skin glands to make more oil, creating the perfect environment for pimples to form. The glands become clogged and oil accumulates, leading to acne.

Menstrual Period

Many hormonal changes occur during a woman’s menstrual period. Before the period begins, levels of a hormone called estrogen drops. This decrease causes testosterone to rise, creating an imbalance. The increase in testosterone then leads to more oil production. Research has shown that this type of premenstrual acne is more common in women 33 and older. In fact, more than half of all women break out before their period starts. This is even more common in older women.

Menopause

Most women go through menopause in their 40s or 50s. This life-changing time signifies the end of a woman’s ability to reproduce. The average age of menopause is 51, but some women experience it earlier or later. As the body naturally ages, extreme hormonal fluctuations take place. The body also stops producing estrogen, leading to a hormonal imbalance. Estrogen decreases, testosterone increases, and acne develops.

If a woman's adult acne is caused by menopause, her skin is likely to clear up after menopause is done. By this point, the hormonal fluctuations of this period will be over. This may occur in the late 50s to early 70s, depending on when menopause began.

Medication

Some medications cause acne. This is the body's way of reacting to a new, foreign substance that was not there before. If acne is a known side effect, it will be listed in the medication's description.

Ask your doctor about possible side effects if you are concerned about acne while taking a new medication. She can help before acne even develops.

About the Author

Kirsten Nunez is a lifestyle writer and author focusing on crafts, creativity and health. Since 2010, she has been sharing DIY projects at WildAmor.com (formerly Studs & Pearls). In May 2014, she published a craft book, "Studs & Pearls: 30 Creative Projects for Customized Fashion." She lives in San Francisco.