Category: | Acne

What Causes Acne?

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You may have heard it said that no one really knows what causes acne. While causes of acne may be individualized to an extent, some actual causes can be identified. It depends a bit on the type of acne you experience, your age, and your lifestyle. Here are some of the possible causes and triggers of acne.


Causes are different from triggers. For example, clogged pores may cause acne; but something triggers the pores to get clogged, or triggers them to become inflamed.

Some possible causes of acne may include the following.

* A high-glycemic diet – Studies show a connection between high insulin levels in the body and the development of acne. Eating foods that convert quickly to sugar in the body – that is, high-glycemic foods – causes the body to produce large amounts of insulin to keep blood sugar levels stable. This large amount of insulin in the blood may cause or worsen acne – some health professionals have been known to call acne "diabetes of the skin"!

* Hormonal shifts – When you hit puberty, wean a baby, begin menopause or perimenopause, take birth control pills, etc., you experience hormonal shifts. Hormonal shifts are actually a common, normal, and relatively frequent occurrence during the average lifetime. After menopause and into old age, hormones tend to become more stable and not as subject to fluctuations. But that can take a while! In the meantime, hormonal changes may cause various types of acne, such as rosacea or localized breakouts.

Hormones may be responsible for increased production of oil or sebum on the skin, which is one of the contributions to clogged pores.

* Stress – While it’s somewhat controversial, some conjecture that stress plays a role in acne. This may be due to the stress hormones that are produced when you suffer chronic stress. These hormones, particularly norepinephrine and epinephrine, are male hormones and are implicated in the development of acne. Also, during stressful periods or chronic stress, the immune system may be less effective. This could make the skin more vulnerable to bacterial infections and therefore acne.


Triggers may be more individualized than causes; a trigger might be an allergy or sensitivity that is unique to certain sensitive individuals. Other triggers are more common. Here are some better-known acne triggers.

* Food allergies – For allergic individuals, eating problem foods creates inflammation, and inflammation plays a key role in acne development.

* Hair products – Hair products are often overlooked as a possible skin irritant, but acne triggered by hair products is more common than most people realize. Acne triggered by styling gels, conditioners, etc. tends to occur along the hair line or the jaw and neck.

* Telephones – The bacteria build-up that may occur on telephone receivers can infect skin with acne-causing bacteria. A tell-tale sign is acne along the jaw, chin, and ear, occurring on the side you use most when you hold the phone to your ear.

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