Causes of Acne | All You Need to Avoid to Get Clear Glowing Skin

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causes of acne

Acne is a skin condition that ranges from mild to severe depending on the causes. Some acne conditions are due to natural reasons like hormonal changes, genetics, and skin types. Along with these, many other triggers are causing acne on your face and body. So, if you think that whatever you do your acne is not healing, you need to understand the causes of acne and the main triggers.


Causes of Acne

The main causes of acne are excessive oil/ sebum production in hair follicles, hormonal changes, and bacterial infections. This article will explore all the internal and external causes of acne that you can avoid to achieve clear glowing skin.

Acne triggers can be divided into two classes:

  • Internal causes
  • External causes

Internal causes

The internal triggers of acne are related to internal mechanisms of the body If you have any of the following they may lead to excessive sebum production, pore-clogging, bacterial infections and at last acne formation. So, take a look at the internal causes of acne.

  • Hormonal Changes
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Medication Reactions
  • Medical conditions like PCOS

Hormonal Changes

causes of acne

Hormonal changes are the main cause of acne as when hormones change in the body, they lead to excessive oil/sebum production. Acne occurs due to the rise of androgen in both girls and boys which produces more oil in the skin. Therefore, teenage girls and boys are prone to acne. Moreover, adult acne may also occur during hormonal changes, especially in women, during pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, and due to the usage of oral contraceptives. They can be treated using oral contraceptives, regular diets, retinoids, etc.


Stress is a main factor in acne. If you are living a stressful life, it will be obvious on your face in the form of dullness and acne. Along with emotional and psychological disturbance, stress also affects your body physically by increasing cortisol levels in the body. The cortisol hormone stimulates testosterone which triggers sebaceous glands and leads to overproduction of sebum that results in acne.


triggers of acne

Acne issue usually runs in the genes of most families. If any one of the parents has an acne history, the kids are likely to have it at some part in life. If both of the parents have an acne history, the kids cannot escape from it.

Medication Reaction

Medication reactions or drug-induced acne can occur at any stage of life. Some drugs like corticosteroids, lithium, vitamin B12, thyroid hormones, halogen compounds (iodine, bromine, fluorine, and chlorine), and antibiotics (tetracycline and streptomycin), antituberculosis drugs (INH) are acne triggers. These drugs may cause medical reactions in the body that heat up your body and lead to acne.

Medical Conditions like PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is when acne occurs on your jawline, chin, and upper neck. It is a medical condition that causes hormonal imbalance and leads to acne. You need to consult a doctor before starting any medications on your own.

External Triggers of Acne

The external triggers of acne are:

  • Oil-based beauty products
  • Irregular Diet
  • Sun exposure
  • Friction on Skin
  • Gut Issues
  • Smoking
  • Low-Quality Products
  • Disrupted Sleep Schedule
  • Poor Hygiene
  • Pollution

Oil-based Beauty Products

Anything oil-based is an enemy for you if you have acne-prone or oily skin. Oil-based cosmetics or skin-care products like moisturizers, cleansers, and foundations can clog your pores and lead to bacteria. So, it is preferable to avoid any products that have oil in their formula because you need to be careful about what you put on your skin. For makeup, use matte foundations with a low level of oils. For skincare, use gel-based or water-based moisturizers and cleansers

Irregular Diet

There are a lot of foods that trigger acne. Your skin looks like anything that you eat. So, be mindful of your diet because eating unhealthy will lead to breakouts. To prevent acne, avoid dairy foods, chocolate, sugar, greasy food items, carbohydrates, and high glycemic foods like white bread, breakfast cereal, white rice, etc.

Sun Exposure

Although sun exposure is good for your skin overexposure can trigger acne becasue Sun exposure causes overproduction of oil/sebum in the skin which leads to acne. Also, it leaves hyperpigmented acne dark spots. Therefore, it is vital to use sun protection in the form of sunscreen or sunblock to avoid harmful UV rays of the sun.

Explore the best sunblocks in Pakistan that are suitable for all skin types. Also, check how to choose the right sunblocks for yourself at Sun Protection in Pakistan: How to Choose the Right Sunblock for You?

Friction on Skin

Continuous friction on the skin is one of the main causes of acne. Usually, people who wear caps, masks, scarves, helmets, and chin pads have acne on their skin. It is becasue these objects produce friction with the skin and lead the pores to produce more sebum. Meanwhile, continuous friction also causes bacteria that lead to acne. Moreover, sleeping on cotton or harsh fabric pillows and sheets also causes acne.

Gut Issues

Acne on the cheeks and forehead are symptoms of poor gut health. Your digestion issues can heat your stomach which starts showing its signs on your skin. Gut issue-related acne is visible on your cheeks and forehead. So, you need to bring balance to your gut health. It is possible by eating a healthy diet that boosts probiotics in your body and improves your gut health.


Smoking is one of the most neglected causes of acne that is often neglected by most. It is the reason for adult acne. Smoking cigarettes releases nicotine into the skin which leads to skin issues like delayed wound healing, and acne. So, if your acne is not healing, you need to take a break from your smoking and allow your skin to get better.

Low-Quality Products

Low-quality skincare or beauty products are harmful to your skin. The ingredients in low-quality products can make your skin sensitive, activate sebaceous glands, and cause acne. So, be careful about whatever you are applying on your skin because your skin acts as a sponge which absorbs the products and gives it to your body. Therefore be mindful when purchasing products and pick high quality and authentic products that suit your skin type.

Disrupted Sleep Schedule

Poor sleep schedule has a lasting impact on your skin in a negative way. It disrupts your healthy skin and causes breakouts. People who get lack of sleep are prone to acne because lack of sleep causes fatigue and stress. When the body is under stress, the cortisol levels are high leading to acne.

Poor Hygiene

Poor Hygiene of your face is not the real cause of acne because a dirty face is not likely to have a breakout. Because if you wash your face again and again throughout the day, your skin may react to harmful chemicals and lead to acne vulgaris. However, cleanliness is still important to clear out all the dirt and oil from your face that may clog your pores. Moreover, to prevent acne, you need to change your lifestyle like changing your dirty pillowcases, avoiding dirty towels, cleaning your phone’s skin, and using new or washed face masks every day, etc. These habits may reduce your breakouts.


Pollution is one of the root causes of acne especially for those who go out of their homes in a polluted environment. Pollutants trigger acne and make skin sensitive. The air pollutants may land on your skin and disrupt the natural skin barrier. Moreover, another major reason for acne in adulthood is consuming polluted water for cleaning and showering.


What is the main cause of acne?

The main cause of acne is the excessive production of sebum in hair follicles that clogs the pores and leads to inflammatory acne.

What is the most common cause of acne?

The common causes of acne are:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Genetics
  • Poor Diet
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress, etc

How do I prevent acne?

You can prevent acne by maintaining a regular healthy diet, and proper sleep schedule, changing your lifestyle, reducing stress, maintaining a proper skincare routine, and being consistent with your routine.

What causes acne naturally?

The natural cause of acne is a clogged hair follicle that happens due to dead cells buildup and excessive oil.

Duaa Naeem
Duaa Naeem
Dua is a seasoned writer who loves to write on Pakistani Entertainment and Infotainment while having her Masters in English literature

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