It’s not just teenagers who get acne. While blemishes are most common during puberty, even babies can be affected and some people develop acne prone skin in adulthood.
Acne is sometimes labelled according to the age at which it occurs: baby acne, teenage acne, adult acne etc., but it is also described according to the severity of its symptoms (e.g. Acne Conglobata) and, at other times, the various forms of acne are grouped according to the external causes that may have triggered blemishes (e.g. Cosmetic and Mallorcan Acne).
This article looks at all three different ways of grouping acne and explains the names, likely triggers and symptoms of each different type.
We use terms such as comedones, papules and pustules to describe the different forms of acne. If you’re not familiar with these, you can find an explanation of the terms used to describe blemishes in Acne-prone skin in general.
If you’d like to find out more about how blemishes and acne develop, take a look at the development of acne and the causes and triggers of acne. For how to care for skin, read the ideal skincare products and routine for acne-prone skin and acne medication and common treatments.
This article may help you identify the type of acne that you have but, if you are still in doubt after reading it, and if your skin is causing you problems, then you should consult your doctor who will be able to give you the information and advice you need.
Acne at different life stages
Our hormones behave differently at different stages of our life. This means that acne, for which the primary internal cause is hormonal, varies depending on our age. You can read more about the relationship between acne and hormones here. Acne is most likely to occur when hormones are fluctuating and is broadly categorised into four different age-related types:
Also known asNeonatal acne, baby acne
When does it occur?In around 20% of newborns. Boys are four times more likely to experience baby acne than girls
Where does it occur?Most frequently on the cheeks. More rarely on the forehead and chin
SymptomsNormally closed comedones (whiteheads). Occasionally open comedones (blackheads), papules and pustules.
Can it scar?Unlikely
Also known asToddler acne, acne infantilis, infantile acne, acne juvenilis
When does it occur?Between the ages of three and twelve months. Boys are more frequently effected than girls
Where does it occur?On the face, particularly the cheeks
SymptomsMost commonly, a few comedones side by side or single papules or pustules.
Can it scar?Yes, in rare cases
Also known asTeenage acne, puberty acne, normal acne, acne simplex
When does it occur?During puberty (most likely between the ages of 15 and 18). Between 70%- 95% of adolescents are affected to some degree by acne1
Where does it occur?On the face and upper body
SymptomsAcne Vulgaris ranges in severity from light acne (known as Acne Comedonica) through moderate and sometimes more severe acne (Acne Papulopustulosa) to severe acne (Acne Conglobata).
Can it scar?Between 2% and 7% of those who’ve had severe acne experience scarring. (1)
1 C.C.Zouboulis, Hautarzt 2014 65: 733-750
Also known as
Adult acne, late acne
When does it occur?
In adulthood (from approximately age 25 onwards)
For 20 to 40% of the population acne either persists beyond the age of 24 or begins after that age
The most common skin disease in industrialised nations
More common among women than men as triggered by stress and the hormone fluctuations of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause.
Where does it occur?
On the face (primarily the chin and jaw), neck and upper body
Acne Tarda ranges in severity from light acne (known as Acne Comedonica) through moderate and more severe acne (Acne Papulopustulosa) to severe acne (Acne Conglobata)
Can it scar?