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Am J Clin Dermatol. 2006;7(5):281-90.

Persistent acne in women : implications for the patient and for therapy.

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Department of Dermatology, Harrogate and District Foundation Trust, Harrogate, UK.


Acne is traditionally regarded as a skin disorder of the teenage years. However, recent epidemiologic studies have shown that a significant number of female patients aged >25 years experience acne. One recent community-based UK study estimated the prevalence of facial acne in adult women aged between 26 and 44 years to be 14%. It is not clear whether there is a true increase in acne in this age group or whether these patients are less tolerant of their acne and/or better informed of available therapies and so seek advice. The reasons for persistent acne are not fully understood. External factors such as use of certain cosmetics, ingestion of drugs, and endocrine abnormalities should all be considered when managing these patients. Post-adolescent acne in females can be divided into 'persistent acne', which represents a continuation of acne from adolescence into adult life, and 'late-onset' acne, which describes significant acne occurring sometimes for the first time after the age of 25 years. The clinical picture of each of these forms of acne in adult females can differ slightly from conventional adolescent disease. The course of each form is more indolent. Because of these variations, the approach to investigation and management of these cases may have subtle differences when compared with that for teenage disease. Acne treatment should aim to reduce sebum, comedogenesis, propionibacteria population, and inflammation. Treatment selection will depend on the acne grade and site as well as the patient's preference and ability to comply with therapy. Maintenance therapy plays an important role in managing this group of patients. As the response to treatment is inevitably slow, patients must be encouraged to adhere to the chosen treatment regimen. This article reviews the literature on persistent acne in women in terms of clinical presentation and possible etiologic factors, and outlines principles of therapy related to managing these cases.

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