Three-step plan gets to the root cause of adult acne

Reader’s Question: I’m 56 years old, and for more than six months now, I’ve had acne on my cheeks, nose and chin. It never goes away, and I’ve been using all sorts of topical cream to try and combat it. What could be causing the problem?

Dr. Glenn Rothfeld: I’ve seen far too many people over the years ignore adult acne and refuse to seek treatment for it. And it’s because we’ve been told since we were teenagers to just leave our acne alone, and that it will go away with time.

But acne — especially when it strikes during adulthood — is often an indicator of something more serious going on inside your body. So getting to the bottom of what’s causing your acne may even help you identify a health condition you didn’t realize you had.

Here are three things that adults with acne and their doctors should always look at:

Prescription drugs: Certain medications, including types of steroids, have been known to trigger acne outbreaks. Sometimes just switching your medication will clear up your skin.

Hormonal changes: Just like when you were a teen, changes in hormone levels can bring on acne problems. Only back then it was puberty — now it can be menopause or other types of hormone loss we experience with age.
This can be an opportunity to get your hormone levels tested and see if replacement therapy is in order. Or, if you’re already getting replacement therapy, to adjust your levels.

Allergies: With cases of adult acne, comprehensive allergy testing is a must. Food allergies in particular can cause bad breakouts. But there are plenty of other environmental toxins that can irritate your skin, too.

Thanks for all the great questions. Remember, you can email me any time at

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
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