What Causes Acne: What’s Behind Pesky Pimples

woman with pimples

Ah, acne—that dreaded visitor that overstays its welcome on our faces. Whether you’re dealing with the occasional pimple or a full-on breakout, dealing with acne can feel like an uphill battle. But don’t worry! By understanding the root causes of acne, you can arm yourself with the knowledge to combat those pesky pimples and achieve clearer, healthier skin.

So, what exactly causes acne, how do these bothersome blemishes form, and more importantly, how do you effectively get rid of pimples? Let’s take a closer look.

pimple on the chin

Understanding the Anatomy of a Pimple

Before we dive into the common causes of acne, we first need to ask ourselves: how do pimples form? 

Well, at the heart of every pimple lies a hair follicle and a sebaceous gland. These glands produce an oily substance called sebum, which helps lubricate the skin and hair. When excess sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria clog the hair follicles, it creates the perfect breeding ground for acne.

As the follicle becomes blocked, a plug forms, trapping oil and bacteria inside. This leads to the formation of a comedo, more commonly known as a whitehead or blackhead. If the follicle wall ruptures, the material spills out into the surrounding skin, triggering inflammation and the characteristic red, swollen appearance of a pimple.

While most cases of acne are found on the face, they can also appear on other parts of the body, such as the chest, back, shoulders, and even buttocks. These areas have a higher concentration of oil glands, making them prone to breakouts. Body acne is pretty much caused and formed the same way facial acne is, with hormonal fluctuations, genetics, and lifestyle factors playing significant roles.

woman eating unhealthy food

What Causes Acne: The Common Culprits

Now that we understand how acne forms, let’s explore the various factors that contribute to acne formation.

  1. Hormonal Fluctuations, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. This excess oil can clog pores and lead to acne flare-ups.
  2. Genetics can, unfortunately, make you more prone to acne. If your parents struggled with acne, there’s a higher likelihood that you may experience it too.
  3. Diet may also be one of the causes of acne. While the link between diet and acne is still unknown, certain foods, such as high-glycemic-index carbohydrates (or any “white” carbohydrate such as white bread or white flour) and dairy products, may trigger acne breakouts in some individuals.
  4. Skincare products, particularly those that are formulated with comedogenic or pore-clogging ingredients, can make acne worse. This is why it’s best to switch to non-comedogenic products that won’t clog pores.
  5. Stress doesn’t directly cause acne, but it can worsen existing breakouts by triggering hormonal changes that increase oil production.
  6. Exposure to pollutants, humid climates, and certain medications can also contribute to acne formation by clogging pores or irritating the skin.
  7. Lifestyle choices, such as poor skincare habits like not cleansing your face regularly or sleeping with makeup on, can lead to the accumulation of dirt, oil, and bacteria, making acne worse. Other lifestyle factors that increase the risk of acne include smoking, which can reduce blood flow to the skin and impair its ability to heal, as well as excessive sun exposure, which can lead to inflammation and exacerbate acne symptoms.
skincare products

How to Prevent Acne

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to acne prevention. Instead of thinking treating acne as a quick fix, consider it a journey of lifestyle adjustments to effectively manage acne in the long term. While it may seem daunting, achieving clearer skin is entirely possible! Here are some practical changes you can implement to promote healthier skin.

  1. Maintain a consistent skincare routine. Wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and impurities. Don’t forget to use a fresh towel or even facial tissue to pat your skin dry afterwards. Switch to non-comedogenic moisturizers and skincare products to avoid clogging pores.
  2. Avoid touching your face. Even if you think your hands are clean, there’s always something on it that can trigger acne. Try your best to refrain from touching your face throughout the day, as your hands can transfer dirt, oil, and bacteria that can worsen acne breakouts.
  3. A balanced diet rich in certain foods can help prevent acne by reducing inflammation, regulating hormone levels, and supporting overall skin health. Key acne-preventing foods include fatty fish like galunggong, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, probiotic foods such as yogurt, green tea, zinc-rich foods, and water.
  4. Stay hydrated, as we all know the Philippines can get hot! Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water daily to keep your skin hydrated and flush out toxins that could contribute to acne formation.
  5. Avoid stress. Stress can intensify acne breakouts by triggering hormonal changes that increase oil production. Incorporate stress-reducing techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga into your daily routine to help keep stress levels in check.
  6. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your skin time to repair and regenerate. Lack of sleep can lead to increased cortisol levels, which may cause acne breakouts.
  7. Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by wearing sunscreen daily, even on overcast days or times when you are indoors. Sunscreen helps prevent inflammation and hyperpigmentation associated with acne breakouts.
  8. Seek professional help if needed. While over-the-counter remedies and home skincare routines can help manage mild acne, severe or persistent acne may require professional intervention. Skin care clinics like Facial Care Centre offer a range of specialized anti-acne treatments, including prescription medications, chemical peels, laser therapy, and extraction procedures, tailored to individual needs.

Understanding the causes of acne breakouts and preventing acne is about more than just clear skin; it’s about nurturing a healthy relationship with our bodies. By learning about the common causes of acne and lifestyle changes like dietary adjustments, skincare routines, and stress management techniques, you can effectively manage acne and prevent future breakouts. And remember, if acne persists or becomes severe, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from experts like those at Facial Care Centre. A clear complexion awaits!

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