Acne and its management beyond the age of 35 years

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2004;5(6):459-62. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200405060-00011.


Although acne is not usually considered to be a disorder that affects the elderly, the disorder occurs sufficiently often in mature individuals to be noteworthy. The variety known as 'persisting acne' is, as its name suggests, ordinary acne that continues into adult life. 'Chin acne' is a curious type that occurs premenstrually in mature women, while 'sporadic acne' describes the sudden development of significant acne in later life for no apparent reason. When acne develops in an individual outside the usual susceptible age group precipitating causes such as exposure to comedogenic substances or drugs must be excluded. Similarly, endocrine causes such as androgen-secreting tumors and the administration of anabolic steroids need to be considered. All inflammatory processes are decreased in the elderly and this may be one reason for the persistence and intransigence of acne lesions in older age groups. The principles of treatment of acne in the elderly do not differ from those in other age groups, although the emphasis during counseling needs to focus on explanation and reassurance rather than prognosis. Topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide easily irritate elderly skin, so azelaic acid and even sulfur preparations are preferable. Low-dose systemic isotretinoin is reported to be helpful to patients in this age group and is certainly worth a trial.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Doxycycline / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Doxycycline