During puberty, the body starts to produce more androgenic hormones. Androgenic hormones are involved in producing male characteristics, but the hormones are also present in women. These hormones can overstimulate sebaceous glands in the skin. The sebaceous glands produce an oil known as sebum. At normal levels, sebum is involved in keeping your hair and skin healthy, but if you produce too much sebum, this can clog up the tiny hair follicles/pores in your skin. This then traps the Cutibacterium acnes bacteria inside, allowing the bacteria to multiply and cause inflammation in the area. It is this inflammation that causes the spots that are characteristic of acne.
Acne is a very common condition, affecting 80% of people in the United States. Despite its prevalence, acne doesn’t affect everyone. Genetics and other factors can play a role in the likelihood of you developing acne. Genetics can have an effect upon your hormone levels, or the amount of dead skin cells you produce and a range of other factors that can predispose you to acne. Besides genetics, environmental factors can play a role in acne. Using cosmetics, lotions, and hair products may worsen acne as this can alter the balance of oils on your skin, and also introduce more products that can clog the pores and hair follicles, encouraging a build-up of sebum and bacteria. For similar reasons, wearing headbands, shoulder pads, helmets and backpacks can aggravate the problem by encouraging sebum to build up and pores to become blocked. Some medications can also cause acne, such as steroids, lithium, and anti-seizure medications. Whilst acne is commonly associated with puberty, other changes in hormones can also contribute to the problem, including pregnancy, polycystic ovarian syndrome and adrenal problems.