What Causes Acne? 5 Main Causes of Pimple Breakouts

If you are suffering from acne you would want to know the causes of acne. Many will vouch that pimples have the knack of cropping up just when there’s a momentous occasion round the corner!

Adolescents are of course familiar with the embarrassment of having pimples. However, not only teenagers who suffer from pimples. Acne affects nearly everyone irrespective of their race, color, nationality and gender.

Persons between the ages of 12 to 30 usually suffer from this skin condition. Nevertheless some adults in their forties and fifties may also get acne. These usually occur on the face, chest and back.


According to popular theory, acne is triggered by foods you consume, but that just isn’t true. Acne is caused by clogged pores. The amount of make up a person wears can affect their acne, but is not the main cause. Some people slough off dead skin cells a little differently than others. Typically, the cells are sloughed off evenly, and result in clear skin that is rejuvenated. After all, that is the purpose for sloughing. Some people don’t remove these dead skin cells evenly, and produce larger amounts of natural oils in their skin so the result is clogged pores and acne breakouts.

There are many conflicts on the exact cause of acne and pimples. Let’s take “foods that cause acne” as an typical example.Scientists and researchers may tell us that food has nothing to do with the acne outbreaks. However, some people who are suffering from acne may tell you that they have had pimples around their face only because of the chocolate bars they couldn’t help eating the night before.

Hormonal Imbalance

One cause of acne that make the most sense to me and most people agree on is hormonal imbalance. Acne and causes and teens. One good example is the fact that many of us become acne sufferers when we become an adolescent.

This imbalance of hormones in our body is also manifested in our psychological cycles, especially for females. I have found out through research and self-experiencing that acne is more related to the lifestyle that we assume than one single food or some part of the body. But if you are determined to understand or dig deeper into the various causes of acne and pimples, you might want to check out the following factors.

  • Fluctuation of androgen
  • Oil ingestion
  • Steroids you use or medication that you take
  • Dietary habits
  • Proper exercises
  • Junk foods
  • Vitamin defficiency
  • Seasons
  • Lack of Zinc

Hormon Changes

Nearly all cases of acne are the result of changes in hormone levels. In this post we are going to discuss what happens in the skin that causes the symptoms to appear as this helps in understanding how the acne treatments work and therefore helps you find the best one.  So now we accept that hormone changes are causing acne, let’s see how.

A normal hair follicle that does not have acne

Stage 1

Changes in hormones mean that the sebaceous gland in the hair follicle starts to produce more sebum. We are not sure why, but this is how it all starts. You can see from this picture the hair follicle is made up of a hair, sebaceous gland, and a pore (the hole that is on the surface of the skin).

The sebaceous gland normally produces oil that is known as Sebum. The skin and hair needs this oil in order to function properly but during times of hormone change an excess of this of oil (or Sebum) is produced.

Stage 2

The second stage in the Acne process is when a blockage occurs in the skin. This blockage happens in a number of ways, one way is by the build up of dead skin cells that stop the Sebum (or oil) being released to the surface of the skin. Another way that the blockage happens is that the size of the pore is small so that the oil can not be released to the surface quickly enough.

And finally, this blockage can occur simply because the sebum has quite a high viscosity meaning that it is sticky and therefore when it sits in the follicle it stays there and stops the release of more sebum when it is produced.
This is the first sign of acne appearing

Stage 3

Now that there is a blockage stopping oil from being released to the surface of the skin, this means that when more oil is produced it has nowhere to go so a build up of pressure occurs. As this diagram shows this causes a swelling which is when a spot or pimple starts to occur. The more oil that is produced when this blockage is there the larger this spot or pimple will be.
Bacteria living in the hair follicle

Stage 4

Within the pore there is now a build up of sebum that is staying where it is and it is in this sebum “reservoir” that bacteria finds a perfect breading ground so it starts to multiply.




Stage 5

As the bacteria starts to grow and increase in numbers the body’s immune system will try to fight off these bacteria and so will release white blood cells that normally kill the bacteria that is causing the infection.

This release of white blood cells (commonly called pus) means that there is an increase of more substance into an already blocked hair follicle which makes the problem worse as now there is a build up of pus and sebum.

This is when the worst symptoms of acne start to occur. So there we have it, the progression of acne from hormone change to the worst symptoms of acne. As we can see from these stages it is important to treat acne when it gets to Stage 1 as this will stop the development of pimples and keep the skin clear.

Luckily there are treatments, both natural and scientific, that effectively stop this progression and help those pimples that have already formed. For more information on how they do this you can read our post on Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid or got to the full reviews of our top products to read what natural ingredients they have and how they work to clear acne:

What Is Acne And How Is It Formed?

This common skin ailment is characterized by the presence of one or more of the following: whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules, cysts, greasy skin or scars.

Pimples form due to the clogging up of the skin’s pores. There are many sebaceous glands beneath the skin’s surface that produce an oily substance called sebum. This sebum is produced to keep the skin supple.

The sebum travels to the surface of the skin through the pores of the skin. Each pore has a hair follicle. The skin rejuvenates itself by shedding old skin cells. At times the hair follicle and these cells together block the entrance of the pore.

In such a case the sebum accumulates beneath the skin to form pimples. The accumulation of the sebum provides ideal conditions for the bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) found in the skin to flourish rapidly. This causes the white blood cells to react thus resulting in an inflammation in the area.

What Causes The Acne And What Makes It Worse?

No one has been able to pinpoint the exact reason for the occurrence of acne. However several theories have been propounded. The most common and accepted theories are as follows:

  1. Heredity. If your parents have had acne, chances are high that you would also suffer from this skin condition.
  2. Overactive sebaceous glands. During teenagee years the increased levels of hormones (androgen) can cause the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. This could result in acne.
  3. Medicines. Certain medicines containing steroids can cause acne as a side effect.

Situations that Make Acne Worse

In some situations the occurrence of pimples may increase. These situations could be:

  • The hormonal fluctuation that occur during the menstrual cycle
  • Stress
  • Using oily cosmetics and skincare products
  • Treating the skin roughly by scrubbing it hard or washing it too often
  • Picking at the pimples
  • Pollution and climatic conditions like humidity

Preventing the occurrence of acne is not in your hands. However, now that you know the causes of the acne, you can avoid situations that make it worse.

5 Culprits That Constitute The Causes Of Acne

Acne is one of the most widespread medical conditions, although the acne causes are known but its sure-shot cure is still unknown. At least 85% of the teenagers, 50% of adult women and 25% of adult men are affected by pimples and blemishes.

With the lack of a sure cure or prevention method, it is not possible to totally eliminate acne from occuring. This situation is treatable and if proper steps are taken as soon as it starts building up, then you are less likely to experience permanent damage to the skin.

It’s Not Your Fault That You Are Getting Pimples

Mostly the zits are non-inflammatory, but in severe conditions they may become inflammatory, thus medical help has to be taken. The face and upper neck get affected the most, but back, chest and shoulders may also be hit.

But be assured, it is not your fault that you are getting those ugly oozy spots. With time and some preventive steps, you will be able to control the situation. First it’s very important for you to know about the causes of the acne.

Acne spots are not because of dirt, or how oil free you keep your skin or how clean your surroundings are. It happens due to certain factors that are beneath your skin, hence out of your control.

It starts with sebaceous hair follicles, commonly called pores. As the skin sheds, it gets cleared off naturally. However, in some cases shedding is not even and a layer of dead skin starts clogging the pores.

Inside the trapped pores, oil and bacteria breed and a pimple begins to form. The body then attacks the bacteria with white blood cells to fight infection, and the zit shows up on the skin.

What Causes The Acne To Happen

There are mainly five culprits which form the basic acne causes. They are:

  1. Hormones: The inflow of hormones called androgen causes the sebaceous glands to enlarge. During puberty, the body produces more of these, thus acne problems start mostly during the teenage years. Sometimes menstrual cycles or even pregnancy can trigger the situation.
  2. Dead skin cells: In normal conditions, dead cells within the follicle shed gradually. But when the sebaceous glands are over-active, this shedding is more rapid. Mixed with extra sebum, it plugs the healthy hair follicles too, causing the zit.
  3. Extra sebum: When the sebaceous gland is enlarged, it produces extra sebum. Presence of this extra sebum increases the chances of a clogged pore, hence forming a pimple.
  4. Bacteria: Acne bacteria are regular residents of the skin, a normal condition. But during the time that a follicle is plugged, these bacteria multiply rapidly and cause inflammation.
  5. Inflammation: The body rushes its army of white blood cells as soon as it detects an increased number of bacteria on the skin. This turns the pimple red, swollen and somewhat painful.

Comprehensive knowledge about the causes of the acne will make you a better informed person and thus help you understand this problem as well as cope with it.

5 Main Acne & Pimple Causes – Getting To The Root Of The Problem

There are many causes of the acne. Understanding these causes can help us deal with our acne more effectively. Many people, especially teenagers, do not know much about pimples and that is why they end up using wrong methods to treat them.

Many teens squeeze their pimples to get rid of them. Now, only if they knew that this would cause scarring! Many teenage girls use lots of cosmetics to hide their pimples. They don’t know that this would make their condition worse!

Understanding The Causes

#1 Hormones
So, let us start the discussion with the pimple causes. Hormones called androgens are often cited as one of the main culprits. It has been noted that for most people acne begins at puberty, which is also the time when body starts producing androgens. Androgens cause over stimulation of the sebaceous glands. The oil gets mixed up with dead skin cells and bacteria present on the skin, thereby blocking the pores.

Many women experience premenstrual flare of acne. Some researchers blame this on the hormonal imbalance. During the menstruation period the estrogen-androgen balance gets altered in favor of androgen and thus acne gets triggered.

Another hormone called cortisol is also cited as one of the causes of pimple and acne. It has been noted that stress often causes overproduction of hormones like, cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It has function to regulate cardiovascular and blood pressure functions, and use of carbohydrates, fats as well as proteins for the body.

#2 Bacteria
Bacterium Propionibacterium, which is present in every skin type, often causes acne. When the pores get blocked due to oil or dead skin, this bacterium gets a very healthy environment to multiply rapidly. The pores get further blocked and the bacteria end up inflaming the follicles.

#3 Makeup
Heavy makeup can also cause acne in people. Heavy makeup blocks the pores thus providing a perfect environment for skin bacteria to multiply. Use of strong cleansers also causes acne to flare up. Strong cleansers end up robbing our skin of essential oils. In response, the body creates more sebum to compensate for the loss. Overproduction of oil ends up blocking the pores and thus results in acne.

#4 Genetics
Genetics could also make a person predisposed to acne. Children whose parents have had acne during their teenage years have a greater chance of getting acne. So, in some cases acne cannot be avoided.

#5 Diet
Diet is also blamed for acne though the exact co-relation has still not been established. Some experts believe that allergies to certain food can trigger acne in people.

Understanding the causes of the acne can help us treat our acne problem more effectively.

The Causes Are Varied

Acne is not just the pimples on the skin that cause pain and scarring, it is also what we call as blackheads and whiteheads. What causes the acne is a question that doesn’t have an answer.

This is because the causes of pimple or acne differ with different people. Even if it is acne in adolescents, the nature of acne varies. For instance, someone might have red and raised pimples while others might have cysts. Still others might have acne lesions.

Causes And Treatment

Lack of general hygiene is one of the main causes of the acne. It is very important that the face should be washed at least twice a day with a gentle soap or an oil free face wash.

Apart from that unnecessary touching of the face needs to be avoided. Another precaution which if overlooked can become a cause of acne, is hair on the face.

Regular shampooing of hair is very important so that dandruff if any does not fall on the face. Apart from that you need to make sure that your hair doesn’t touch your face especially while you are asleep.

The prime cause of acne is the excessive secretion from the sebaceous glands. The oil or sebum thus secreted clogs the hair follicles present in the pores.

This leads to the formation of a plug. Certain bacteria present on the surface of the skin attack this plug and cause infection. This results in inflammatory growth over or under the skin.

Apart from this often people develop acne owing to some food allergies. In such cases it is advisable to maintain a food diary to note your daily intake to ascertain the cause of your acne. This is vital towards the treatment. Yes, acne is curable.

However, just as the causes are varied so is the acne treatment. Therefore off-the-shelf medication, whether oral or for exterior application, should not be taken, without consulting your medical practioner.

This can have adverse effects. Some creams taken without consultation are known to even result in permanent scarring. Acne can be got rid off with proper care and the help of a medical professional. If you need to treat acne scars then you should first use some home remedies instead of going in for synthetic market products.

Read: Toothpaste and Shampoo Can Trigger Acne Breakout