What causes acne?
Acne is caused by:
- Sensitivity to hormones or hormone fluctuations
- Excess oil production resulting from hormones that trigger oil glands to enlarge and make more sebum
- Skin bacteria
- Pores and hair follicles clogged with oil and dead skin cells
- Inflammation can make pores swell and break down the walls of the pore
Acne can get worse if these conditions are present:
- Picking or squeezing pimples, blackheads or sores
- Excess oil from oily lotions, creams or hair products, or from working around frying oil or greasy food surfaces
- Fluctuating hormone levels, especially before a woman’s period, or in midlife, especially in women
- Irritation or skin pressure from tight clothing, masks, backpacks, or hats and sport helmets
- Stress increases the hormone cortisol, triggering acne breakouts
- Diet high in sugar, sugary soft drinks, and high-carbohydrate foods (bread and chips); there may also be a link to skim milk and whey protein
- Taking certain medications (corticosteroids, testosterone, lithium)
- Family history of acne -- if both parents had acne, you’re likely to have it
- Air pollution and high humidity
What does not cause acne?
- Chocolate has never been directly linked to acne, but a high-sugar diet has. If you eat a lot of chocolate, instead of a well-balanced diet, the sugar in the chocolate may be causing acne.
- Greasy foods don’t cause acne. However, if greasy, fried foods dominate your diet, you’re probably not getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein that helps decrease acne.
- Dirty skin doesn’t cause acne. Skin is delicate and scrubbing too hard with harsh soaps or chemicals irritates skin and can worsen acne. However, if dirty means you’re not regularly washing away the excess oil and dead skin cells that clog pores, then your poor hygiene may be contributing to acne.
- Make-up and cosmetics don’t make acne worse, unless you don’t remove it every night. Consider using oil-free makeup that won’t clog pores, called non-comedogenic.