Why am I getting acne at age 51???

Dear Dr. Irwin~ I'm a 51 year old woman and I've always had pretty clear skin. Last year I started using 0.05% tretinoin, 5% glycol acid, and 20% Vitamin C serum. I eased into them all over the course of 3 months and had no irritation using the tretinoin & glycolic on alternating nights, and vit. c every morning. I've been using them with no issues for 9 months, but suddenly I started getting frequent breakouts that have lasted for the last 2 months. My question is: if I'm using tretinoin & glycolic (which are recommended for acne control), why am I suddenly getting acne? Thank you.

My first thought is remember that acne is a hormonal disease!! It occurs between puberty and menopause. Could you be now in perimenopause? Many women find that they suddenly start breaking out again (so annoying!) during this time of transition. Similarly, some women find they break out if they start hormone replacement therapy.


As for treatment, please see a dermatologist if it’s not gone soon. This type of acne is sometimes not controlled well by topical agents – they will often help but not truly control the breakouts.


Dr. I


Read Dr. Irwin’s article on Acne and Menopause.


Also, check out this tinted moisturizer great for dry skin by NeoCutis.



Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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