Causes of Adult Acne and Hair Loss

Acne is a condition that is characterized by red pimples that break out mostly on the face and to a lesser degree on other areas of the body. It is generally seen in adolescents, but it can occur in adults as well. Hair loss occurs primarily in adults and sometimes it can be accompanied with acne. There are several reasons why both of these conditions can appear.

Man losing his hair on the back of his head.
Credit: GCammarata/iStock/Getty Images


One of the main causes of acne is an overabundance of an oil called "sebum" that is produced in the sebaceous glands. During puberty, there is a high amount of this oil which leads to acne breakouts. When acne appears in adulthood, it could be reoccurring after being dormant since adolescence.


Anabolic steroids are used by certain bodybuilders and weight lifters to get bigger and stronger in a short amount of time. Although they may be beneficial at achieving this goal, they also come with side effects. Being that they alter the hormones in the body, both acne and hair loss can result from their use.

Side Effects

Prescription drugs are used to treat symptoms of an underlying condition. They may be effective at doing that, but they can also come with unwanted side effects like hair loss. Examples of these would be birth control pills and antidepressants. Chemotherapy drugs for cancer can also cause hair to fall out.

There are several drugs that are both legal and illegal that can cause acne. Examples of these include DHEA, lithium, corticosteroids and barbiturates.


Male pattern baldness is a also known clinically as"androgenetic alopecia." This is characterized by hair loss on the crown of the head and it is often accompanied with a receding hairline. When this takes place in women, it is called "androgenic alopecia." In this case, the hair loss occurs evenly over the whole scalp.


Women and men are prone to a condition called "traction alopecia." This is caused from constantly pulling the hair back and leaving it there. This places a lot of stress on it, or traction, causing it to fall out. Hairstyles where this can be seen include dreadlocks, corn rows and ponytails. This can be stopped if caught early, but if it continues, it can be permanent.


Diets that are severely low in protein and iron can cause hair loss in men and women. This can be seen with crash diets, fad diets or if there is an eating disorder.

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If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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