What Causes Acne Breakouts?

Breaking out? We can explain. Here are some possible causes behind acne breakouts

Learn the real cause behind your acne breakouts

When it comes to acne, the human populace is divided into two clear categories: the lucky few who get to waltz through the hormonal minefield otherwise known as puberty unscathed, and even make it through adulthood with blemish-free skin. And everyone else who ends up becoming closely acquainted with breakouts, whiteheads and blackheads and the frantic quest for clear skin.

A quick glance at reports by medical experts shows that the latter category happens to be rather large in comparison to the former. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 85 percent of individuals between 12 and 24 experience acne with varying degrees of severity. What’s more, this condition may also continue throughout the lives of a number of individuals in their 30s and 40s.

There’s also the fact that this category seems to be growing even larger — according to the International Dermal Institute, an increasing number of adults are beginning to experience acne too.

What are the reasons behind it all? In this article, we will be examining a number of possible causes of acne breakouts at different stages of our lives.

Acne Breakouts: Definition and Possible Causes

Acne is a skin condition caused when our skin produces an excess of oil (also referred to as sebum). This surplus oil may get blocked in our pores with dead skin cells that haven’t quite shed successfully. The harmless bacteria — and even yeast in some cases — which live on our skin joyfully seize this opportunity to gobble up the oil. This activity triggers an immune response provoking swelling and pus resulting in pimples, and breakouts when it occurs over a wide area.

There is a wide range of factors which can affect our skin, triggering such a reaction and five of them are examined below:

Diet: Sugary foods and refined starches have been proven to cause insulin spikes, which have the effect of causing acne breakouts. Dairy products are also another category of foods which are known to be capable of sending sebaceous glands into overdrive, thanks to the hormones contained in cow’s milk.

That does make it seem as though delectable, tempting foods might be out of the question if your doctor has confirmed that they are indeed responsible for your breakouts. Thankfully, there’s a world of nondairy, whole-grain and nut-based treats waiting to be discovered ensuring you’ll be able to enjoy amazing skin and please your taste buds at the same time.

Genetics: The manner in which our bodies function is governed by our genetics. And given the profound influence they exert, it’s no surprise that they too might be responsible for acne breakouts in certain instances.

Recent studies carried out by Kings College, London have shown that a number of genes responsible for our hair follicles also play a role in just how susceptible our skins are to acne. Scientists also believe that by determining the shape and size of these follicles, these genes may make them particularly prone to inflammation and bacteria: conditions which are favorable to acne breakouts.

Hormones: They are the reason an overwhelming number of adolescents around the world will experience the attendant redness, bumps and scars which are the hallmarks of acne. And it’s all due to their ability to enlarge the sebaceous glands: larger glands mean more sebum which in the presence of blocked pores will inevitably lead to an invasion of pimples.

Puberty is far from being the only condition during which our hormones may unleash bouts of acne breakouts on the skin. Stress has also been proven to trigger hormonal activity — namely through the hormone cortisol — which also causes excessive quantities of oil to be produced. Pregnancy happens to be yet another occasion during which hormones may influence the skin to produce unusually large amounts of sebum.

The wrong kind of moisturizer: If your attempts to keep your skin moist and supple are met with acne breakouts, chances are your moisturizer might be the culprit. This is especially true if you happen to have oily skin and your lotion contains ingredients such as silicones or mineral oil which are known to clog the pores encouraging acne.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends moisturizers that are oil-free and non-comedogenic if you do have oily skin as they will keep your skin smooth and moisturized while leaving your pores unclogged. A good foundation, developed specifically for acne-prone skin, will also help.

Excessive yeast on the skin: In addition to being home to harmless bacteria, our skin also hosts a kind of yeast known as Malassezia. And just like its bacterial counterpart, it also happens to be rather fond of feeding on oil produced by our sebaceous glands.

Heat and humidity tend to make it particularly active due to the heavy sweating they cause. Antibiotics which tend to get rid of the beneficial bacteria required to contain yeast levels may also result in its growth and an acne breakout as well.

Dermatology Times recommends using azole antifungal treatments which may be applied to the skin or taken orally to halt its activity.

The Bottom Line

From our diet, to our genetics, to our hormones, not to mention the kind of foundation or moisturizer we pick off the shelf at the store, or the bacterial and fungal balance on our skin, there seem to be so many factors behind acne breakouts. And the list provided above is by no means exhaustive.

So how can you tell just what might be behind any episodes you might be experiencing? In order to know for certain, it’s best to seek out expert advice from a health care professional. Doing so will ensure you’re able to get the care you deserve and significantly increase the likelihood of your getting to enjoy smooth, blemish-free skin.

Resources— American Academy of Dermatology, Cosmopolitan, Dermalogica, International Dermal Institute, King's College, London