Acne vulgaris is increasingly recognized in adult women; however, few studies have formally evaluated the clinical presentation and factors associated with acne in this population.
This prospective, observational international study evaluated the clinical characteristics and lifestyle correlates of acne in adults (≥25 years) at a dermatology visit for acne. Investigators conducted a detailed clinical examination and administered a validated questionnaire that covered medical history, disease evolution, lifestyle habits, previous treatments, skin care and quality of life.
In this study (n = 374), acne was mild or clear/almost clear in 47.3% of subjects; however, the study visit was not required to be an initial consultation for acne and as such, many patients were already on treatment. Most women (89.8%) had acne involving multiple facial zones (cheeks, forehead, mandibular area, temples) with a spectrum of facial acne severity similar to adolescents. Mixed facial acne (both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions present) was the most common presentation; 6.4% of women had inflammatory acne only (no non-inflammatory lesions reported) and 17.1% had comedonal acne with no inflammatory lesions. Truncal acne was present in 48.4% of patients. A small subset (11.2%) had acne localized only to the mandibular area. Compared to the women without localized acne, those with mandibular acne were more likely to be employed (90.5% vs. 78.6%), reported greater daily stress levels (5.8 vs. 5.1), and were more likely to say their jobs were psychologically stressful (71.4% vs. 57.5%). Women with mandibular acne alone were significantly less likely to have a global acne severity rating of moderate or higher (7.1% vs. 50.1%), truncal acne (19.0% vs. 51.9%), post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (23.8% vs. 51.9%) and erythema (19.0% vs. 48.4%). At the completion of the study visit, this group was also more likely to receive a prescription for an anti-androgen (16.7% vs. 7.7%).
This study represents the first objective assessment of the facial distribution of acne lesions in adult women presenting to the dermatology office. The data surprisingly indicate that the acne distribution in almost 90% of cases is similar to that seen in adolescent acne. The stereotype of adult female acne being due to hormonal disturbances presenting as inflammatory acne localized only to the mandibular area was not found in the majority of this large group. The large majority (93.7%) of women had facial comedones. We recommend that the general treatment approach for adult acne should include agents that target each of the acne lesion subtypes. Subgroup analyses of recent large-scale controlled clinical trials have shown that many adult women respond well to standard first-line acne therapy.
B Dréno, D Thiboutot, AM Layton, D Berson, M Perez, S Kang
Large-Scale International Study Enhances Understanding of an Emerging Acne Population: Adult Females
J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2014 Oct 08;[EPub Ahead of Print]