What Causes Acne

Acne is a skin condition in which pores of your skin are blocked by hair, sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria. These blockages result in blackheads, pimples, whiteheads, and nodules. You must be wondering what causes acne. So, the reason behind acne occurs could be genetics, fluctuating hormone levels, high humidity, stress, or using oily or greasy personal care products. However, acne commonly affects teenagers and pregnant women but can occur at any age.

In this skin condition pimples mostly occur on the face, forehead, chest, shoulders, and upper back. Let me tell you if you are suffering from pimples, you are not the one. Because it’s the most common condition that people experience. It’s estimated that 80% of people ages 11 to 30 have at least mild acne problems. And mostly all people get affected by it at some point in their lives.

Acne is generally characterized by three types of lesions:

  • The blackhead/ comedo;
  • The inflammatory papule
  • The pimple.

Moreover, acne appears on the skin may be like

  • Comedonal Acne (You may know it as blackheads or whiteheads),
  • Tender red bumps (pimples),
  • Cysts (the deep pimples).
  • Pustules (bumps containing pus),

You can also get treatment for your acne. But pimples and bumps on your skin take time to heal. You may even experience that when your one pimple begins to go away, others seem to crop up. Moreover, depending on its severity, acne can scar the skin. The earlier you treat them, the lower you get such problems. Moreover, you can treat them a lot using products available at a drugstore or cosmetic counter even these products do not require a prescription. However,  we advise you to consult a physician or dermatologist.

What are the Symptoms of Acne?

As we discussed above, acne signs vary depending on the severity of your condition:

  • Whiteheads (closed comedones)
  • Blackheads (open comedones)
  • Tender bumps of small size (papules)
  • Pimples having pus at their tips (pustules), which are papules with pus at their tips
  • Nodules Large, solid, and painful lumps under the skin
  • Pus-filled lumps under the skin which may be painful (cystic lesions)

Acne usually appears on the forehead, chest, face, upper back, and shoulders. See a doctor if self-care treatment is not working. Your dermatologist may prescribe you stronger medications if acne continues.

In addition,  some women may get acne for decades a week before menstruation, However, this type of acne clears up without treatment. In older adults, a sudden occurrence of pimples may be a sign of an underlying disease that requires immediate medical attention.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns people not to use- prescribed acne products. Because there are various non-prescription acne lotions, cleansers, and other products for skin that may have side effects on your skin. However, this type of reaction happened rarely with some people. Also,  you don’t need to confuse it with any irritation, redness, and itchiness that may occur in those particular areas where you have applied medications or products.

You should seek emergency medical help if after using a skin product you experience swelling in the eyes, face, lips, or tongue, tightness of the throat, faintness, difficulty in breathing, and much more.


Firstly, you should know what causes acne. Acne is commonly a hormonal condition that causes due to androgen hormones. These hormones usually become active during the young adult age or teenage years. These hormones’ sensitivity is combined with surface bacteria on the skin and also fatty acids with oily glands which may result in acne.

Ow acne occurs and makes the situation worse:

  • Due to changes in hormone levels during and before the menstruation period.
  • Picking at acne wounds.
  • Clothing, headgear, sports and helmets, and hats.
  • Due to weather conditions like air pollution and especially high humidity.
  • Using many oily or greasy skincare products such as waxes, hair pomades, creams, heavy lotions, or working in such type of greasy area, that can cause acne.
  • Stress and some medications. However, stress is not a cause of acne but if you already have acne stress can make it worse.
  • Diet- It indicates certain foods rich in carbohydrates such as chips, bagels, and bread.
  • Hair follicles clogged by dead skin cells and oil
  • Bacteria
  • Inflammation

The area of skin where acne appears are the face, forehead, chest, upper back, and shoulders. It is because these areas of skin consist of oil. In addition, hair follicles are connected to oil glands. The follicle wall may bulge and produce whiteheads and if pores remain open it may cause blackheads. Blackhead on your nose, look like dirt stuck in pores. But the reality is that it is filled with pores and bacteria which turn brown after exposure to the air.

Pimples are raised red spots which are filled with white centers that developed when blocked hair follicles are infected with bacteria.

Causes Acne

Treatments for Acne

Your dietitian or dermatologist may suggest some non-prescription medications for your condition. It also depends on your skin condition, age, sensitivity, the type of acne you have, acne effectiveness, and also on the over-the-counter remedies.

In research, it is found that some contraceptives can sometimes help a woman’s acne go away. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved approximately three types of birth control pills that help treat acne. All of these contain a combination of estrogen (female sex hormone) and progesterone (steroid’s natural form that helps in regulating menstruation).

Some various medications and therapies have proven to be effective. These medications directly target the underlying factors that lead to acne. You may found one or multiple factors for the severity of your acne.

Medications applied topically are:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide: It targets surface bacteria that target acne. Also, it is available as an over-the-counter product like PanOxyl®, Clearasil®, Stridex®) as a leave-on gel or wash. Benzoyl lower concentrations and wash formulations. Moreover, it is less irritating to your skin.  Also, irritation and dryness is a common side effect you may face.
  • Salicylic Acid: It is also available over-the-counter for acne treatment. It is in the form of a cleanser or lotion. Salicylic acid helps in removing the top layer of damaged skin. It dissolves in dead skin cells and prevents your hair follicles from clogging.
  • Azelaic Acid: It is a natural acid found in various grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. This acid helps in killing microorganisms of the skin and reduces swelling.
  • Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives): Retinoids like Tazorac®, Retin-A®, and Differin®. These are available now without a prescription. Retinoid therapy is best to control acne issues. These medications are not recognized treatments for skin issues. But these are used to prevent the formation of new pimples. The most common side effect of it can be irritation moreover, it usually improves moisturization of your skin.
  • Antibiotics: Topical types include clindamycin and erythromycin control are effective and apply to the skin twice a day. In addition, antibiotics become more effective when it is combined with benzoyl peroxide.
  • Dapsone: It is a topical gel having various antibacterial properties. It is usually used for inflamed acne. You can apply this topical to your skin twice a day.

Medications are taken orally (by mouth)

  • Antibiotics: Tetracycline antibiotics such as minocycline and doxycycline antibiotics are usually used to treat moderate to severe acne.
  • Oral contraceptives: Some of the oral contraceptives such as Estrostep®, Beyaz®, Ortho Tri-Cyclen®, and Yaz ®.can help with breakouts that are associated with menstrual cycles. However, FDA  approved three classes of medications for people having severe acne conditions. An oral retinoid is an especially effective drug that is most effective in severe cases of acne. It usually shrinks the size of the oil glands, which contributes to acne formation. However, it may have side effects such as dryness but can also cause some birth defects.

Other therapies

Depending on your skin condition, your dermatologist may suggest anyone out of these specialized therapies, and possibly he may combine some medication with it which is necessary for such skin condition.

  • Steroids: You may be aware of steroids. Steroids are used for, this severe acne. Usually, they are injected into large nodules to reduce inflammation
  • Lasers: Nowadays, lasers are reused to treat acne scars. When laser delivers its heat to the healing response to create new and healthy collagen. It encourages the growth of new skin to replace acne marks.

However, there are different types of laser resurfacing such as ablative and non-ablative. Your dermatologist can decide which type is best for your skin type and especially the nature of acne scars.

  • Chemical Peels: In this treatment special chemicals are used to remove the top layer of old skin. However, whenever the top layer is removed the new skin that grows in is smoother and has lessened acne scars.

Home Remedies for Acne

You may be wonder about How to prevent acne at home with home remedies. There are various home remedies for acne, but not all of them are well researched and have proven benefits. Below are some of the home remedies are:-

  • Diet: Diet plays important role in preventing you from various skin issues. However, it is unclear what role diet plays in worsening acne. Scientists found that those who consume a balanced diet with nutrients and minerals have a lower risk of occurrence of acne. In addition, you need to take a diet with a low glycemic load.
  • Tree Oil: On the basis of a study, the Indian Journal of Venereology, and Leprology and Dermatology published that 60 patients reviewed that tree oil has a 5-percent role in treating acne. If you need tree oil, you can get an excellent selection of it online after viewing thousands of customer reviews.
  • Tea: There is some evidence that polyphenols from tea including green tea used in topic manufacturing. Because it is beneficial in reducing sebum production and in treating acne. However, some compounds extracted from the tea provide skin-cleansing benefits.
  • Moisturizers: Moisturizers provide hydration to the skin especially in people who are using acne treatment such as isotretinoin. According to researchers, moisturizers containing aloe vera at a concentration of at least 10 percent can give a soothing and anti-inflammatory effect.

Types of Acne

Acne can take several forms. They include:

  • Blackheads: These are open bumps on the skin filled with excess oil and dead skin that fill with excess oil and dead skin. It looks like dirt has been deposited in the pores. But if you find dark spots on your face, these are in severe cases are caused by the irrelevant light reflection of the clogged follicles.
  • Whiteheads: Bumps that remain closed by dead skin and oil. Whiteheads often occur in the areas where oil is collected in pores.
  • Papules: These are some small, pink, or red color bumps that become inflamed unwantedly.
  • Pustules: This form of acne is most commonly known as pimples that contain pus. It may look like whiteheads that are surrounded by red rings. You can get a scar if you try to pick or scratch it.
  • Fungal acne (pityrosporum folliculitis): This type of acne occurs when you get excess yeast develops in the hair follicles. However, it may become itchy and inflamed.
  • Nodules: This type of acne is generally deep pimples that are deep inside your skin. Moreover, they are large, painful, and takes enough days in healing naturally.
  • Cysts: These types of acne are pus-filled pimples called cysts. It can cause scars.

Although, there is a treatment for treating all types of acne. But these forms of acne can also affect your self-esteem sometimes. However, it is best to treat your acne with the help of a dermatologist to prevent your skin from developing acne scars.


1. Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

According to various studies, some foods and diets may lead to acne. Skim milk, protein, and diets having high sugar may contribute to acne. However, chocolate has no direct link to acne. Also, there is no evidence that chocolate cause acne but it is found in research that food items that contain sugar may result in acne.

2. Why Do So Many Adolescents Get Acne?

As we discussed above that acne mostly occurs because of hormonal changes called androgens. It is specifical testosterone that is produced by both men and women. During the teen years, these hormones tend to be at their peak and show their adverse effect.

3. Can Acne Cause Scars?

Yes, sometimes acne results in scarring. It usually happens when acne penetrates the skin and damage even the deeper layer. Inflammation makes the acne pores swell and you may get a breakdown in the wall of the pore. Scarring can of course become the reason for your anxiety which is normal. But before it can be treated your dermatologist can easily analyze what type of acne can cause scars. However, there are various treatment options available such as laser resurfacing, micro-needling, surgery, chemical peels, and dermabrasion, that are used to treat acne scars.

4. Does Certain Food Cause Acne?

According to some evidence, skim milk, whey protein, and high sugar diets may cause acne breakouts. Although this remains controversial. Eating a balanced diet with various nutrition having fresh fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals, helps reduce inflammation. However, there is also some evidence that eating fish is also helpful in preventing acne.

5. Do I Need to See a Specialist?

You can treat acne naturally by just managing your lifestyle and by eating a balanced diet. However, your acne can also be managed by your general dermatologist. In some cases, you may get scars due to acne which may not heal itself. Some strong medications prescribed by dermatologists can help in getting rid of acne scars. You can also get laser, steroids and any other treatment suggested by your dermatologist according to your skin problem, skin type, and type of acne.

6. Can Acne Start Before (or after) Your Adolescents Years?

Yes, you can get acne at any age. It’s not just a matter of adolescents years. Because nearly everyone gets at least a few breakouts during the teenage years. It’s impossible to predict at which age someone will develop more severe acne. But you have a higher risk if anyone in your family whether father, mother or any close relative had severe acne that left them with acne scars.

However, it is found that people get acne in adolescents years because of hormonal changes. According to research, approx 20% of newborns get a particular type of acne known as neonatal acne. Generally, it appears between the second and fourth week after the baby is born. Also, this type of acne goes away naturally without causing any scars. And, it does not have any risk of getting severe acne later again.

Some children have infantile acne which begins between 3 to 6 months after they are born. Moreover, this acne can cause deep acne cysts and nodules which may lead to acne scars. These scars can be permanent. However, this acne type rarely develops in children.

In addition, acne is also a problem for women over 24 years of age. Most of the women had acne in their teenage and in some cases, they continue to get breakouts as they get adults. On the other hand, some of the women had teenage acne and that get cleared. Now years later,  some of them experience acne breakouts again.

 7. Can Smoking Cause Acne?

According to a study, smoking may be the reason to some extent of occurring acne. You may have noticed some women’s had noticeable blackheads and whiteheads that often covered a large area of their face. Some women also get a few deep pimples.

Researchers found that many of the women smoke enough cigarettes. They also found that if women smoke cigarettes, the more severe her acne develops. On the other hand, some of the women develop ice-pick type acne scars even if their older acne gets cleared.

Various studies have demonstrated that women having whiteheads with pimples usually smoked. Other studies clearly stated that smokers are more likely to get acne than non-smokers whether they are men or women.  These studies suggest that smoking cigarettes is injurious to health and may cause acne.

8. Can Stress Cause Acne?

While stress cannot cause acne, it may worsen existing acne. According to the study’s result, stress intensifies the severity of an increase in acne. Therefore you should avoid stress as it can increase acne by producing more adrenaline and cortisol which can exacerbate acne.


Acne occurs when tiny holes of the skin are called hair follicles blocked. On the surface of our skin, we have various tiny glands known as the sebaceous glands which are attached to hair follicles. This gland lubricates the hairs and stops the skin from drying out. It happens because of the production of an oily substance known as sebum. When sebum in excess amount mixes with dead skin cells of our skin then both of these substances form a plug in the follicle.

These plug follicle further bulges outwards and create a whitehead. Alternatively, plug follicle when open up then create blackhead which looks like a heart. But it is said to be a harmless bacteria and infects plugged follicles that cause papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules type acne.

Nealy everyone gets at least a few acne during life. It may be due to hormonal changes or bad eating habits. However, it is impossible to predict at what age you will be going to get acne because there is no standard age for getting acne. The good news is that it can be treated and you don’t have to worry about your acne problem. Due to developing technology, you can believe that every type of acne can be treated easily. However, it may take time in terms of few days, or it may take few months to get clear skin in severe cases. For this, you can get the help of a board-certified dermatologist.

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