Adult Acne Case Study

by | Oct 8, 2018 | Skin Health

Glamourous celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Cameron Diaz have both suffered from, and overcome adult acne – so there is relief out there!

I often get asked ‘Why am I getting spots at my age?’

Adult acne case study. Teddington The skin nurse

Adult acne case study. Do you hide away?

Fact: More than 80% of cases of adult acne occur in women, and reported cases are rapidly on the rise (NHS).

What is Adult Acne?

Very simply, acne is caused by an excess of sebum (sweat) being produced in the skin, this can lead to bacteria in the pores AND because normal skin shedding is slower in acnaic skins the pores get clogged up easier.  This mix of extra sebum and dead skin leads to spots and breakouts.

Acne is commonly seen on the jaw and cheeks, chest and back.

The lesions can be red cysts (which can be very painful and feel deep), puss-filled spots (pustules) and/or blackheads (comedones).

What causes Adult Acne?

The reality is, there are MANY issues that can irritate and worsen acne but the cause is usually due to fluctuating irregular hormones.  Other issues such as pollution, cosmetics, smoking, diet and sweat can also contribute.

Key problems & challenges of Adult Acne:

The issues which come with having acne (not just as an adult but at any age) are incredibly difficult and can be physically and emotionally straining.

It can be very sore and tender on the skin.

It can be unsightly which can lead to self-esteem and confidence issues.

There is a risk of permanent scaring.

Makeup can be difficult to wear and apply; there is a desire to cover it up with heavy foundation, but this won’t usually help the breakouts.

My case:

39 year old female.
Commutes into London on the tube.
Works full time in a stressful job, often more than 40 hours a week.
Socialises at least 3 times a week = late nights, rich foods and often alcohol.
Hits the gym 3-4 times a week.
This client has been suffering with painful breakouts on her face for almost a year which makes her paranoid about the way she looks, impacting her work because she no longer wants to give presentations and she doesn’t enjoy the social aspect of her life so much.
She is also aware that all the ‘spot reducing’ products she has tried, dry her skin out so much and she’s noticing more lines and dryness appearing.

We went through the consultation together along with a skin analysis and we discusses her skincare routines and products.


To reduce excess oil on the skin

Eliminate dead skin build up

Heal existing blemishes

Hydration to prevent premature ageing


It is vital to get specialist help when treating acne and if you’re having in-clinic procedures its paramount to ensure you’re looking after your skin at home too – this is what will give you the best results long term.

In clinic:  A course of chemical skin peels to address pore congestion and irritation.  To include salicylic and mandelic acids which are great for managing problematic skin and promoting exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and clear out the pores.  With these peels blemishes and imperfections can be improved whilst preventing future breakouts.

We also gave her current skin care routine a overhaul:

My client was using shower gel to wash her face in the mornings then relieving the feeling of tight itchy skin with a gentle light moisturising lotion.

She didn’t wear any makeup on her skin during the day, because it felt uncomfortable but felt self conscious.

She did, however apply a thick foundation at night when socialising to cover up her breakouts.

In the evenings she sometimes used a face scrub, she didn’t moisturise after this because she often woke up with a greasy face so felt she shouldn’t.

After some discussions and explanations we changed her routines to this:

In the mornings:

1 – Cleanse with blemish and age cleanser (still in the shower for quickness) to decongest and refine the pores whilst brightening the skin.

2 – Apply a topical antioxidant (Phloretin CF) which gives protection from pollution, plus helps with pigmentation, post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation and fine lines.

3 – Apply a moisturising cream which doubles up to matify the skin AND provide decent sun protection; Mineral Matte UV defence SPF 30 is great for this.

To use Ad-hoc:  Blemish and age defence to apply directly to spots as and when they are causing trouble!  Like…before menstruating.

In the evenings:

1 – Cleanse again.

2 – Moisturise with Hydrating B5 gel (Oil free!) to replenishes moisture and restore radiance for a smoother complexion (I love this product, very versatile and cooling).

To be added to her routine soon (once she has mastered the above)

Retinol 0.3 for use at night (under instruction) to refine and improve both pores and signs of ageing.

The aim when treating Acne is to reduce the amount of sebum sitting on the skin and help to clear away the dead skin, without causing more irritation.


My client saw a big difference after each skin peel which made her feel immediately better about herself (vital for confidence), this, alongside her new understanding of her skin made her home care routine easy to follow and still very quick (important for us busy people!)

Less inflammation and redness.

Clearer skin with smaller pores and congestion.

More comfortable, less tightness in the skin and less pain from breakouts.

Make up went on better (I recommended a mineral based makeup to try)

This client learnt about her particular type of skin, the products available and how adult acne works.

She is now trying to get more balance in her life to support and stabilise her hormone levels too, which will have a further positive effect on her skin. These definitely include; more sleep and down time!

If you are affected by adult acne and/or would like to get your skin back under control and look after it for the future, book in for a skin consultation and analysis with me here.

Best Wishes

Louise, The skin Nurse