What Causes an Acne Breakout?

If you are suffering pimple breakouts and acne, you might be wondering how it is caused and what can be done to avoid it. Often, it is adolescents who suffer from lingering bouts of pimples and acne. But adults at any age can have these distressing and common skin conditions, too. Here’s what you need to know:

Causes of Acne Breakouts.

The Three Main Culprits of Acne

1. Excess Sebum Can Be a Cause of Acne

The first main culprit is an excess of the oily material called sebum that is produced by oil glands around hair follicles. All humans have oil glands and secrete some sebum, while acne patients often secrete too much sebum. This excess of sebum serves as a nutrient source for bacteria (more later) and can also simply be too much material to flow normally out of the follicle.

2. “Sticky” Dead Skin Cells Can Lead to Pimples

The second is “sticky” dead skin cells. The very outer layers of your skin are composed of dead skin cells - this is normal. These skin cells are regularly shed in a microscopic fashion, so you don’t look like you are shedding. Something happens in adolescence that makes these cells “stickier,” and they can then form a blockage in the hair follicle.

3. Excess Bacteria Can Cause an Acne Breakout

The last is excess bacteria. The special bacterium related to acne is called Propionibacterium acnes. It is present on everyone’s skin. In acne patients, however, there seems to be more of it. This is probably due to the increased amount of sebum being secreted. When the bacteria grow, they create other molecules that lead to further blockage and more inflammation. Eventually, the blockage becomes inflamed and leads to red, unsightly pimples. It’s typical for acne to form on your face and down to your chest and even shoulders. This is because this part of your body has a lot of oil glands to which hair follicles are connected.

What Else Can Worsen Acne?

Diet and hormones can also play a role in breakouts. As you already know, it’s not just teenagers who suffer from acne and pimples. Here are some of the other factors that can worsen acne

1. Hormones Can Make Acne Worse

During puberty, it’s common for both adolescent males and females to experience pimple breakouts and acne. Their sebaceous glands are producing more sebum. Pregnant women also experience hormone changes, as well as women who are taking certain kinds of oral or implanted contraceptives.

2. Medications Can Affect Hormones and Worsen Breakouts

Both males and females taking certain types of medication which affect hormones may experience breakouts. If you have been prescribed any medications that contain corticosteroids, lithium or androgens, there is also a chance of your skin suffering acne as a side effect.

3. Pimples From Diet Rich In Sugar, Carbs or Fat

Foods rich in carbohydrates or foods that are fatty or very sweet can trigger acne and pimples. That being said, diet is almost never the sole cause of acne. If you want to change your diet, go ahead. You may see some small overall improvements in your acne, but do not expect it to cure your acne.

4. Allergies May Cause Acne Breakouts

Allergies or sensitivities to certain products may be causing breakouts on your face and skin. One possibility is the use of soaps and creams, which may be too harsh for your skin and, thus, irritating it. We in dermatology are learning that treating acne with gentle, less irritating products may be better and that irritation and inflammation, which comes as a result of trying to reduce sebum, often makes acne worse.

When to Seek Medical Treatment for Acne and Pimples

If you have been trying a number of DIY remedies, lotions or cleansing creams at home with little positive effects, it may be time to see a skin specialist or dermatologist. If you are interested in getting treatment for recurring pimples, acne and skin problems, we can help.

At California Dermatology and Clinical Research Institute, we have conducted numerous studies to help provide better treatment solutions for our patients. Whether you are having acne or other breakouts, eczema and other skin problems, we can help. Call us today at (760) 203-3839 to utilize the most effective research-based treatment for your condition.