Post-adolescent acne: a review of clinical features

Br J Dermatol. 1997 Jan;136(1):66-70.


Acne is usually recognized as a disorder of adolescence. However, the referral of patients over the age of 25 years with acne has significantly increased over the past 10 years. The clinical features of 200 patients over the age of 25 years, referred to our department for treatment of acne, were evaluated with a view to establishing possible aetiological factors. There were 152 (76%) women and 48 (24%) men. The mean age of the patients was 35.5 years (range 25-55 years). The acne was mild or moderate in severity, consisting principally of inflammatory lesions, with mean total acne grade (Leeds Grading Scale) of 1.125 for men and 0.75 for women. Most patients had persistent acne; but true late-onset acne (onset after the age of 25 years) was seen in 28 (18.4%) of women and four (8.3%) of men. Thirty-seven per cent of women had features of hyperandrogenicity. One hundred and sixty-four patients (82%) had failed to respond to multiple courses of antibiotics, and 64 (32%) had relapsed after treatment with one or more courses of isotretinoin. External factors, such as cosmetics, drugs and occupation, were not found to be significant aetiological factors. A family history revealed that 100 (50%) of patients had a first-degree relative with post-adolescent acne. Patients with post-adolescent acne appear to represent an increasingly important population of acne sufferers. External factors do not seem to have a significant aetiological role. Two main clinical groups were identified: those with persistent acne and those with late-onset acne. A minority of women also had features of hyperandrogenicity. These patients, and those with late-onset acne, may represent a subgroup who have underlying abnormalities of ovarian, adrenal or local androgen metabolism, and require separate investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications
  • Acne Vulgaris / etiology*
  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors