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What’s causing your acne?


21st May 2019 Health Conditions

What’s causing your acne?

Acne is a very common skin condition and in most cases the underlying cause is a mixture of internal and external factors. Find out what’s causing your acne?

Acne is a very common skin condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. It occurs most commonly during puberty and clears up during the late teens to the early 20s. 

Acne in teenagers starts with an increase in the production of androgen, the sex hormone, which includes testosterone. This hormone signals the body to make more sebum (the oil produced in the skin's oil glands) and the excess sebum causes the pores to become blocked with skin cells, causing inflammation and painful bumps in our skin, which we identify as acne.

There is no concrete way of telling straight away what the cause of acne is for each person and in most cases; the underlying cause is a mixture of both internal and external factors. We discuss with experts from Clinica London some of the different possible causes of acne.


More than 80% of women suffer from cases of adult acne. Hormonal changes associated with menstrual cycles, pregnancies and menopause can be the main trigger of acne. This is due to a mixture of the decreasing levels of oestrogen, and the increasing levels of androgen - which contains testosterone - causing an increase in the production of sebum.


Although stress is not a direct cause of acne, it can trigger breakouts as the heightened levels of stress can cause the adrenal glands to be in overdrive mode. Adrenal glands regulate stress levels, and when a person suffers from chronic stress, the adrenal glands stimulate the oil glands to secrete more sebum.

Your Diet

During puberty, the body produces more of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 may increase the productions of sebum and also increase the chance of acne breakouts. Research shows that refined carbohydrates and sugar increase the levels of IGF-1 in the body and contribute to making acne symptoms worse. 

A study done by Nestle in 2011 found that the habit of consuming dairy products past infancy is the most significant cause of acne, as the natural hormones found in pregnant cow's milk can overstimulate the oil glands in humans. 

The environment

Pollution can contribute to an acne flare up as the dirty air, smog and chemicals in the environment can collect on the face and clog up pores and cause inflammation. 

During the winter months, the low levels of humidity can cause the skin to become dehydrated, and the skin will try and regulate this by producing more oil as a means of compensating for the lack of moisture in the skin.

Your beauty products

Knowing your skin type is vital in choosing which beauty products work well with your skin and lessen the chance of a flare-up. Covering up acne with makeup has been a universal technique used over the years; however, the makeup products used could be doing more harm than good. Layering on these beauty products can cause the product to accumulate within the skin follicle, blocking the pores and causing inflammation.

Choosing beauty products for acne should consist of products that are oil-free, non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic and non-irritating. Ensuring these elements are considered can save your skin a lot of hassle to avoid the dreaded acne spots. 

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