Studies estimate that as many as 85% of people between 12- and 25-years old experience acne.
On average, acne begins to improve after the age of 15, and it affects fewer people with age, regardless of gender or ethnicity.
However, studies show that by their 20s, 50.9% of women and 42.5% of men continue to experience acne breakouts. These numbers continue to decline with age, and only 26% of women and 12% of men report acne by their 40s.
- The Hormones That Cause Acne Decrease with Age
- The Statistics: How Likely Is Acne Beyond Adolescence?
The Hormones That Cause Acne Decrease with Age
Growing out of acne depends largely on hormones. The main hormones that lead to acne are called androgens. These are produced at higher levels during puberty, which leads to increased production of skin oil, clogged pores, and eventually pimples. When people reach adulthood, androgen levels typically stabilize, and acne becomes less common.1,2 In some cases, acne continues into adulthood.3 Researchers do not know why this happens, but there is evidence that it may be because hormone levels stay elevated in some people when they reach adulthood.2
The Statistics: How Likely Is Acne Beyond Adolescence?
The following four studies provide statistics on how acne is less common with age. The studies also show that women are more likely than men to suffer from acne during adulthood and that adults with darker skin types may be more prone to adult acne than those of lighter skin types.
2008 survey: Males and females report declines in acne with age
A 2008 research study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed how acne becomes less common with age, for both females and males. The study relied on surveys taken by 540 female and 473 male participants to estimate how prevalent acne is according to age. The results were split into five different age groups and reported as follows:4
- Teenagers: 66.8% of females and 68.5% of males experienced acne
- People in their 20s: 50.9% of females and 42.5% of males experienced acne
- People in their 30s: 32.5% of females and 20.1% of males experienced acne
- People in their 40s: 26.3% of females and 12% of males experienced acne
- People in their 50s and older: 15.3% of females and 7.3% of males experienced acne
This data is graphed below for comparison.
Many of the participants also reported that the severity of their acne reduced during adulthood. This was the case for 53.3% of the female and 63% of the male participants. Although this study showed a gradual decline in acne with age for both genders, females were more likely than males to experience acne during adulthood.4
Female photographic studies (2012 and 2011): Acne declines with age in all ethnicities
Two studies examined acne in females of different ages and ethnic groups. These studies relied on photographs of 2895 females between 10 and 70 years old who lived in the United States, England, Japan, and Italy.
Based on the data from these participants, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Women's Health reported that acne became less prevalent with age. The following statistics were included in this study, which defined "clinical acne" as five or more pimples:5
- 45% of women in their 20s had clinical acne
- 26% of women in their 30s had clinical acne
- 12% of women in their 40s had clinical acne
This data is graphed below for comparison.
The other study that investigated the photographic data from 2895 females was published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology in 2011. In this study, the participants were evaluated with respect to their ethnicity and their age. This study found that females with darker skin types were affected by acne more, and the prevalence of acne decreased with age for all five ethnic groups that were included in the study.6
The results of the study are shown in the graph below.
Although these two studies only included females, they are reliable investigations on acne prevalence because the researchers drew their conclusions from physical evidence, rather than just relying on surveys.
2016 international database study: Acne declines after the age of 15 worldwide
A 2016 study published in the journal Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics showed that the decline in acne with age happens worldwide. This study relied on the 2010 Global Burden of Disease database, which included data collected from studies on acne from all over the world between 1990 and 2010. This study found that males and females in more economically developed countries like the United States are more likely to have acne than people in developing (poorer) countries, but females worldwide are more likely to have acne than males. This study also showed that, on average, the prevalence of acne peaked at the age of 15 in both genders and decreased with age thereafter.7
The rate of acne in economically developed and less-developed countries that was determined from this study is shown in the graph below.
For comparison, the table below provides summaries of the methods and results reported in the four studies discussed above.
Several studies have been able to show that people are less likely to have acne as they age, regardless of gender or ethnicity. Although 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 25 experience acne, for most people it improves after the age of 15, and it becomes less common with age. Only about 26% of women and 12% of men continue to experience acne in their 40s.
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- Bhate, K. & Williams, H. C. Epidemiology of acne vulgaris. Br J Dermatol 168, 474-485 (2013).
- Lynn, D. D., Umari, T., Dunnick, C. A. & Dellavalle, R. P. The epidemiology of acne vulgaris in late adolescence. Adolesc Health Med Ther 7-13 (2016).
- Williams, C. & Layton, A. M. Persistent Acne in Women Implications for the Patient and for Therapy. Am J Clin Dermatol 7, 281-290 (2006).
- Collier, C. N. et al. The prevalence of acne in adults 20 years and older. J Am Acad Dermatol 58, 56-59 (2008).
- Perkins, A. C., Maglione, J., Hillebrand, G. G., Miyamoto, K. & Kimball, A. B. Acne Vulgaris in Women: Prevalence Across the Life Span. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 21, 223-230 (2012).
- Perkins, A. C., Cheng, C. E., Hillebrand, G. G., Miyamoto, K. & Kimball, A. B. Comparison of the epidemiology of acne vulgaris among Caucasian, Asian, Continental Indian and African American women. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 25, 1054-1060 (2011).
- Lynn, D., Umari, T., Dunnick, C. & Dellavalle, R. The epidemiology of acne vulgaris in late adolescence. Adolesc Health 2016, 13-25 (2016).