Everyone gets pimples from time to time; however, acne is different than the occasional breakout. It is actually classified as an inflammatory condition of the skin, and it’s chronic. It causes extreme breakouts of pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, and even cysts. This condition can affect any part of the body, but the face, back, shoulder, upper arms, and chest are most commonly affected. That’s because these areas have a high level of sebaceous glands, which are responsible for the production of the oil that causes acne.
Acne is common during puberty because this is the period of time when the sebaceous glands become active; however, it can develop at any age. Though acne is not dangerous, it can be quite embarrassing and have a serious impact on a person’s self-esteem. Furthermore, as the blemishes clear, they can leave permanent scars behind.
What does acne happen? Here’s a look at 12 causes.
If your mom, dad, aunt, uncle, sister, brother or anyone else in your family has or has had acne, there is a good chance that you will have it, too. Scientific studies have found that acne is much more linked to genetics than environmental conditions. Your genes determine how your immune system will respond to certain bacteria, including the bacteria that can result in blemishes. Genetics also determines how easily your pores can become clogged.
For instance, you may have a genetic predisposition to produce an overabundance of skin cells, and as they die and shed from the surface from your skin, they can clog your pores. However, it should be noted that while your genes can certainly make you more prone to developing this skin condition, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will; if your mom had it, your sister may have it, but you may not.
2. High levels of vitamin B12
Though vitamin B12 is essential for the health of your skin, too much of it could be a bad thing. B vitamins aid in the production of collagen prevents dryness, retains the firmness of the skin, and can aid in moisturizing the skin. However, despite all of the good things that vitamin B12 can do for your skin, if you have too much of it, you could develop acne. Why? – Because high levels of B12 can cause an overproduction of oil, which can directly lead to the development of acne.
Furthermore, it can accelerate the growth of P acnes, a bacteria found on the skin that can trigger acne when levels are high. What does this mean? – If you are not really deficient in the vitamin, you should not take a vitamin B12 supplement, as it could end up causing an unsightly skin condition.
3. Using oily cosmetics
Though you use cosmetics to enhance your beauty, they can actually be the very thing that is detracting from the health and overall look of your skin. Cosmetics – such as foundation, cover-up, moisturizer, and powder- that contain a high level of oil can clog your pores, which can increase the risk of developing blemishes. Additionally, the use of oily cosmetics can also increase the amount of oil your skin naturally produced, further compounding the clogging of your pores.
So, the very products that you are using to improve your looks could be hindering them. Check your cosmetics. If you see any of these ingredients, they could be to blame for your acne: acetylated lanolin, algae extract, almond oil, benzaldehyde, isopropyl palmitate, Ethylhexyl palmitate, or lauric acid. If your cosmetics do contain this ingredient, swap them out for oil-free options to see they ease your acne.
4. Birth control pills
Whether you take birth control pills as a form of contraceptive or you are taking them to regulate your menstrual cycle, if you are suffering from acne, they could be to blame. Some birth control pills contain androgen based progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone, which could make your skin more vulnerable to chronic breakouts. When you take this type of birth control pill, your androgen levels – a type of hormone – can fluctuate.
This can lead to increased production of sebum, a compound that is produced in the follicles of the skin. Your pores will start to fill with excess sebum and trap dead skin cells, dirt, and the P acnes bacteria, thus leading to increased production of pimples and eventually, acne. If you are taking the pill and experiencing acne, speak to your doctor. Switching it could help to clear up your skin.
5. Going off of the birth control pill
While yes, some types of birth control can cause acne, there are many types that can actually help to prevent it. In fact, many people who suffer from acne go on the pill as a way to control their blemishes and clear up their skin. That’s because the synthetic hormones used in some birth control pills can suppress the oils in the skin, thereby preventing the overproduction of sebum and helping to prevent breakouts.
However, once you go off the pill, your skin reacts by producing more sebum (oil), which can lead to severe breakouts that can cause acne. Essentially, acne that is experienced after going off the pill is a withdrawal from the hormones that were suppressing the production of sebum. Post-pill acne, as it is called, can last for about 3 to 9 months – or even longer for some people.
6. Washing your skin too much
Washing your skin is vital to your overall health and well being; it can also help to prevent acne. However, there is such a thing as washing your face too much. In fact, if you wash your face too frequently, you could end up developing acne. This might seem confusing, as washing your face removes oil, dirt, debris, and the P acnes bacteria; however, if you are washing your skin too often, it will actually respond by increasing the production of all of these elements.
As a result, your skin could become more oily and there’s a greater chance that your pores will become clogged and acne will develop. As a general rule of thumb, stick to washing your face no more than twice a day. Also, make sure that you are using a mild cleanser to avoid the potential for breakouts of blemishes.
7. Touching your pimples
It might be tempting to touch, pop, or pick at any blemishes on your face. In fact, you might think that touching your blemishes will help to clear them up; however, in reality, the opposite is actually true – touching your pimples could make the condition of your skin even worse. Whenever you touch your skin, you are putting the oils, dirt, debris, and bacteria on your hands onto your face.
This can trigger the development of even more blemishes. Furthermore, it can aggravate any blemishes that you do have, preventing them from healing, increasing the chances of an infection, and increasing the risk of scarring. It might be really tempting to squeeze a pimple, but unless you want to run the risk of infecting it, delaying the healing time, creating a scar, or increasing the chances of more pimples, you should definitely leave it alone.
8. Your diet
It has long been said that your diet could contribute to the development of acne. For a long time, this has been dismissed as an old wives tale; however, recent scientific studies have found that your diet can, in fact, have an effect on your skin and the development of acne. While chocolate may not cause acne (perhaps one of the oldest wife’s tales), other foods can.
These foods include products that contain skim milk and foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, rice, chips, cookies, and bagels, can all increase the chances of developing acne. The reason? – The ingredients in these foods can actually affect the production of oil in your skin. Additionally, they can also increase the chances that your pores will become clogged with dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and debris, which are all things that can lead to acne.
9. High levels of stress
If you suffer from a lot of stress and you are experiencing constant breakouts, the cause of your acne could be directly related to your stress levels. When you are under stress, your adrenal glands respond by releasing cortisol, the stress hormone. This hormone causes an inflammatory response, which can trigger the development of acne.
Furthermore, stress can affect the way the thyroid responds to thyroid-stimulating hormone. When lower levels of this hormone are secreted, your skin is more vulnerable to inflammation and thus, it is more prone to developing acne. The ironic thing is that stress can cause acne, but acne can also cause stress, so it seems like a never-ending battle. Your skin tends to become more oily when you stressed, and when your skin is more oily, the chance of developing blemishes are greater. Try reducing your stress levels.
10. Your hair care products
If you are experiencing acne right around your hairline – such as on your forehead and on the edges of your face – the cause of your blemishes could be related to the hair care products you are using. In fact, this type of acne is so common that is has been aptly coined “pomade acne”. This type of acne occurs when you use hair care products that contain oils, such as gels, mousse, pomades, hair spray, and conditioners.
The oil in these hair care products is absorbed in the skin that surrounds your hairline, thus increasing the risk of developing acne in these areas. If you notice that your blemishes seem to be centralized to the areas that are near your face, try switching your hair products to items that are free of oil and see if that helps to make any difference.