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Adult Acne – Everything You Need To Know

Adult acne is one of the most common skin complaints in the UK. Despite acne being often associated with the angst of teenagers, it’s a skin condition that affects a huge proportion of both men and women at some stage in their later life. 

If you’re suffering from severe acne you might find it can affect more than just your appearance – loss of confidence, painful skin, recurring infection and permanent scarring are just some of the issues that adult acne can lead to. So if you’re feeling frustrated you’re not alone.

But what causes adult acne and what can be done to treat it? Read on to find out…

acne and spots

What Is Acne?

The sebaceous gland is positioned right next to the hair follicle, which means the follicle is susceptible to getting clogged with a ‘plug’ of excess oil, dirt and trapped skin cells. Bacteria on the skin begins to grow and multiply, and as a result, produce metabolic byproducts. This kickstarts your body’s immune response which leads to redness and spots.

Adult acne can take different forms, with some easier to manage than others. Here’s a list of the common types of acne;


Whiteheads (also called closed comedones) appear are when there is a fine layer of skin that traps the oil, dirt and old skin. 


Blackheads (also called open comedones) look like black dots on the skin – they’re actually the same as a whitehead, except there’s no film of skin over the top. Air exposure causes a reaction to the plug that turns it black (not dirt, as is commonly thought!).


These are small red bumps that can feel tender, they don’t have a white centre.


Papules often turn into pustules, which are red, tender and pus-filled. They can indicate an infection in the pore cavity.


Nodules present as hard lumps but that’s because the pore is blocked deep within the skin layers. These can be painful and prone to infection.


Cystic acne is the most severe type of adult acne. They can be larger than pustules, and carry a greater risk of infection and scarring.

Skin acne types diagram. Vector skin disease pimples blackheads and comedones, cosmetology and skincare problems treatment

What Causes Acne?


Studies have shown that your body’s response to acne is linked to genetics. This sets how your immune system responds to the bacteria that produce spots and if your pores clog easily. 


Hormones play a huge role in the hyperactivity of the sebaceous glands – this is where there is an overproduction of sebum, which makes skin more oily and prone to clogged pores. Hormone shifts typically happen in adolescence, pregnancy, menopause and during a menstrual cycle.


Adult acne can be linked to a diet that includes a lot of sugary and fatty foods.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

One of the associated problems of PCOS is the increased production of testosterone. Since testosterone is key in the production of sebum, it can result in acne breakouts.


Although stress doesn’t directly cause adult acne, it can exacerbate existing skin conditions. Studies have shown that skin heals more slowly when you’re stressed, so any flare-ups will stick around for longer and increase the chances of becoming infected.

So, What Can You Do At Home?

Thankfully, there are lots of ways you can combat adult acne at home. Some are fairly easy to build into your daily routine, while others require you to speak to a pharmacist or GP.

Cleaning routine

Establishing a cleansing routine is the best way to prevent oily build-up on the skin. Choosing the right products is essential because you want to avoid drying the skin too much too! A gentle exfoliator can also help to remove any dead skin cells before they clog up pores.

Over the counter treatments

Pretty much everyone will have had experience of using over the counter spot treatments. From natural tea tree oil and witch hazel, to products that contain benzoyl peroxide – these all contain antiseptic agents that help to reduce bacteria on your skin.

Prescription treatments

There are stronger, more potent medications available on prescription for moderate to severe adult acne problems. These can be topical creams as well as antibiotics, and for women, some contraceptive pills can help decrease blemishes.

Employee Giving a Facial Treatment to Client

What Treatments Are Available?

But what if you have tried all of the available home remedies, and you still have adult acne? Don’t worry! At Elite Aesthetics we have many effective solutions to reduce the occurrence of adult acne and the appearance of acne scarring.


BHRT or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is known for being a more natural approach to hormone replacement therapy. While it has an outstanding track record in helping women going through menopause, it has also seen success in treating adult acne. The rebalancing of hormones means that the triggers for acne are reduced.


The HydraFacial is one of our most asked for treatments with a 97% ‘Worth It’ rating on realself. This medical-grade facial is regularly noted by celebrities such as Beyonce and Britney Spears as the reason for their dewy glow – and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular! 

In a nutshell, the HydraFacial combines exfoliation to remove dead skin cells with an extraction process that clears out pores. The effects are likened to a chemical peel but are suitable for all skin tones (peels aren’t recommended for dark skin shades). The HydraFacial can be tailored to your exact needs, so we can easily address your problem areas.

Hydrafacial for Rosacea Treatment in Greenhithe

Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is an effective way to manage acne as it removes the top layers of skin. At Elite Aesthetics, we offer varying depths of peel to treat different skin concerns. Dr Shirin is highly experienced in dermatological medicine and can provide expert guidance in choosing the right chemical peel for your adult acne.

As well as active acne, we offer treatments that manage the appearance of acne scarring. One of the more permanent side effects of adult acne is the marking of the skin. Our acne scarring treatments are non-invasive and offer quick results.


Microneedling is a process of using a Dermapen to create micro-channels (holes) in the skin. These tiny holes activate the skin’s healing process, stimulating the natural production of collagen. Collagen is responsible for the plumpness of the skin, and by regenerating this you can heal even severe acne scars like ice pick scars, boxcar scars and rolling acne scars.


Plexr works well for adult acne scars, as it uses a device to create plasma using the natural gases and electrical charges in the air. This creates a tiny charge that is directed at the scarred tissue, and once the area heals, scarring and pigmentation are vastly reduced.

So, as you can see, you don’t have to suffer in silence – there are plenty of effective treatments for adult acne or acne scars that can help you regain confidence and manage your acne concerns.

Dr Shirin Lakhani

We’d be delighted to welcome you to our award-winning cosmetic medical clinic in Greenhithe, Kent. Our clinicians are highly trained and provide a reassuring and friendly experience for all of our clients.

We are located close to both Dartford and Gravesend stations (just 10 minutes away), Maidstone (just 15 minutes) and London (20 minutes). Get in touch to see how we can help you.

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What Our Clients Say...

4.97/5 from 1229 reviews

Dr. Shirin is a fully-trained and highly-experienced aesthetic physician, who works diligently to ensure a 5 star quality service, and brings an honest and ethical approach to every one of our clients. With over 20 years of experience in the medical field, including several years as a GP and a sub-speciality in anaesthetics, Dr. Shirin is fascinated by the harmony between medicine and aesthetics, and with her expertise, Elite Aesthetics is able to offer effective, doctor-led treatments to vastly improve the lives of our clients.

To find out more about how we’ve put a smile on customers faces in the past, read our testimonials below for first-hand accounts of a variety of our treatments. You can also find out more about what we think at Elite on our blog, as well as reading more about what the press says about us. Our delighted clients hail from areas including Greenhithe, Dartford, Gravesend, Bromley, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, and West Malling – as well as from further afield.

Read How I Improved My Lichen Sclerosus

Had a consultation with Elite yesterday, I must say I was a bit nervous, but Dr Shirin was so friendly and helpful.
I was given lots of advice and was given treatment options that were within my budget.
A few weeks after the P Shot I've really started to see a difference and have gained my confidence back.

Thank You!



Elite is an outstanding professional clinic with high standard treatments. All the staff members are friendly and offer you honest opinions when it comes to products and treatments. This is a welcoming clinic that I can 100% recommend. Treatments are spoken through and explained in detail, also aftercare. I have been going nearly a year now and am happy with all the treatments I’ve had, wouldn't go anywhere else. The Bocox treatment started to work within a few days, which I was surprised about. So glad I went to Elite for treatment.



Thank you Dr Shirin, the O Shot has really helped me with my Lichen Sclerosus. I'd heard about the treatment on the LS Facebook Groups and message a few people that had treatment with Dr Shirin. I was like many in the group who had run out of treatment options and using creams on a daily basis. I have to say a few months after treatment, I can see a real positive change and I'm hoping my LS will continue to improve. Dr Shirin did say that I might have to have a second treatment given how severe my case is.




A great discovery in the neighbourhood ! There is no need to go up to London for a beauty treatment of any kind. You'll find a whole range of different treatments suiting all age groups and concerns. Welcoming, reassuring, friendly, professional, high tech. I shall be back for more. I love the results of the Thread Lift I had.


Great service as always, skin is glowing very happy


Very happy with the result of my recent visit. For sure will continue with Elite in future

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We have extensive knowledge and experience in the medical and aesthetics industries, but we know that above all, the results matter! All of our treatments are vigorously tested in-house before we offer them to our clients to ensure they are safe, effective and will give you, our wonderful clients, the results you want. Your happiness, well-being and satisfaction are at the very core of everything we do here at Elite Aesthetics, and as a result we will never over-treat or carry out a procedure that Dr. Shirin, deems inappropriate or unsafe. Ethical treatment guides our practice, and we aim to become an industry leader in this respect. This means you can always feel confident that you are in safe hands when you choose Elite Aesthetics.

Our practice is led by our founder, Dr. Shirin Lakhani, who is an advocate for greater regulation in the aesthetics industry. Dr. Shirin and Elite Aesthetics believe greater regulation is vital to the development of aesthetics industry as a whole, and as such, our clinic’s philosophy is based on providing doctor-led care to the highest, medically approved standards. We adhere to stringent ethical and medical principles ensuring all the procedures we offer are safe and effective. Dr. Shirin is also fully registered with the GMC (reference number 4634863), and Elite Aesthetics is CQC (Care Quality Commission) Registered, an endorsement recognised by the UK Government, The Department of Health and NHS England.

Elite Aesthetics has been awarded Thread Lift Certification by MINT Threads.

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Elite Aesthetics
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17:16 05 Jun 23
Hi, Alex here,Just had my Lichen treatment today with Dr Shirin,The whole team at elite are very friendly, comforting and understanding, and did everything they could to give me a wonderful and welcoming experience. They are all so kind, friendly and knowledgeable, world experts at what they do. I am lucky to have them near London. They are also super responsive on the phone and email, so I know they care about thier patients, and I'm very well taken care of, (as with other clinics I have been to, its often difficult to get them to respond to questions), but this clinic is the most responsive I have ever seen!This is a beautiful and wonderful place and I highly recommend it, and I will be recommending it to all my friends as well. They definitely deserve the super high reviews they are getting, so I'm happy to add another one! A Big thank you from me and my family for all you have done for us during this journey!

Margaret QuirkeMargaret Quirke

19:44 11 Apr 23
Great team, friendly and professional. Made me feel very comfortable. They explain everything in detail.very welcoming upon arrival too.I've been going now for a number f weeks and the attitude and cleanliness is consistent. The reception area is always spotless no matter the weather.The staff attitude is always friendly and they put me at great ease

Salima CharifSalima Charif

09:34 30 Mar 23
Good service, honesty and excellent customer service as always 👍

Valerie LambValerie Lamb

08:40 15 Mar 23
Yesterday I had a 'body sculpt' session, to help lymphatic drainage. I was zipped into a suit up to my waist. This massaged and lightly squeezed my feet, ankles, calves, thighs and abdomen. I was breathing oxygen rich air via nasal tubes. It was very relaxing and I slept really well last night. Thank you Elite Aesthetics.

Izzy ChaplinIzzy Chaplin

20:11 09 Mar 23
Today was the first time I visited Elite. The staff were all so friendly and accommodating. Dr. Shirin is so knowledgeable and really helped me understand all the concerns I had. I will definitely be returning. I highly recommend Elite to everyone, especially those concerned with the menopause !


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