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Dirt, oil and bacteria that clog up pores cause lesions or pimples to form, resulting in acne breakouts. According to Women's Health.gov, acne typically affects men and women differently. In adolescence, boys usually experience more severe cases of the condition, while women can break out with pimples at any age.
Women over 60 who are still going through menopause are most at risk for developing acne. According to Women's Health.gov, many women continue to take birth control pills until they are completely past the menopausal stage and often break out when they no longer ingest the hormones present in the medication. The hormonal shifts in women over 60 often serve to clear up acne in some, while others can experience new breakouts as they adjust to their new levels of hormone production.
Why Is My Face Suddenly Breaking Out in Acne?
Various medications can cause acne breakouts in women. Drugs used to treat depression and stress often are the culprits. According to the National Institutes of Health, antidepressants such as beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers can cause acne breakouts in older women 1. Anabolic steroids and corticosteroids used to treat arthritis can lead to acne breakouts. Other common medications that can lead to acne include lithium and quinidine. Disulfram, also called antibuse, used to treat alcoholism may cause new acne flare-ups in women over 60.
- Various medications can cause acne breakouts in women.
- Disulfram, also called antibuse, used to treat alcoholism may cause new acne flare-ups in women over 60.
Women over 60 who experience sudden acne breakouts that are accompanied by other symptoms such as menstrual bleeding, hair loss or excessive facial hair growth should contact their doctor to adjust their medication or check for other medical conditions.
Older women who are concerned about the sudden onset of acne should consult a doctor because it could indicate an underlying medical complication. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, Cushing's disease, also called Cushing's syndrome, can cause acne 23. Cushing's results from taking corticosteroids or because the body is producing an excess amount of cortisol. According to the Mayo Clinic, Cushing's syndrome also causes bone loss, diabetes and high blood pressure 3. Irregularities in the adrenal glands or the ovaries also can cause acne. If left untreated, symptoms could worsen and possibly lead to tumors and cancer. Hyperandrogenism results from an overabundance of androgen in women and in addition to acne, also causes hypertension, hyperglycemia and excessive hair growth, or hirsutism 4.
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- National Institutes of Health: Hair Loss
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Diagnosis and Treatment of Acne
- Mayo Clinic: Cushing's Syndrome
- Encyclopedia.com: Hyperandrogenism
- Perkins AC, Maglione J, Hillebrand GG, Miyamoto K, Kimball AB. Acne vulgaris in women: prevalence across the life span. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2012 Feb;21(2):223-30. doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.2722
- American Academy of Dermatology. Adult acne.
- Zeichner JA, Baldwin HE, Cook-Bolden FE, Eichenfield LF, Fallon-Friedlander S, Rodriguez DA. Emerging issues in adult female acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(1):37-46.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."