How An Underlying Condition Can Be The Cause Of Your Acne

Although acne commonly occurs during puberty, adults, to their great sorrow, can be affected too. It’s bad enough when you get it during puberty. But, when you’re well into adulthood and you still have acne, it can be mortifying.

Over the past two decades, the number of adults who have gotten acne has gone up; about 85% of them are females. Acne, in fact, is now the eighth most common skin disease in the whole world. 

In its mild form, adult acne consists of whiteheads, blackheads, and small pustules, while moderate adult acne includes papules. Papules could cover one-fourth to three-fourths of the face or body. In severe cases, adult acne causes deep cysts, extreme redness, irritation, and swelling.  

Teenage acne

For teenagers, acnes are caused mainly by hormonal conditions compelled by male hormones called ‘androgen.’ This hormone, combined with fatty acids on oil glands and bacteria on the skin, could cause acne. Eighty-five percent of teenagers are affected; according to GoodRx, there are several ways to treat acne.

Acne is essentially normal; however, some conditions could exacerbate it. This includes picking and prodding your pimple which is the worst thing you can do to acne. Certain types of clothing and headgear could also make your acne break out.     

Adult Acne Causes

Most adult acne is caused by clogged pores and inflammation. Acne can be persistent, and, sometimes, genetics are to blame. But, even so, its appearance can be triggered by other underlying factors. These are: 


Hormonal changes in both males or females can cause acne in adults because of how they affect the body, including the condition of the skin. Hormonal fluctuations can also cause inflammation, pH imbalance, oily skin, and differences in circulation. Besides the onset of menopause, hormonal changes in females happen during:

  • Pregnancy
  • Menstruation
  • Postpartum period
  • Breastfeeding

Often tender or painful, acne caused by hormonal fluctuations is often cyst-like in appearance.  


Biological changes that happen to your body caused by emotional stress could also trigger adult acne. Your adrenal glands produce more cortisol when you’re feeling anxious, scared, or pressured. Excess cortisol can cause an imbalance on your skin. 

Another trigger that can affect your hormones is physical stress which can cause inflammation and weaken your immunity. Some causes of physical stress are:

  • Dehydration
  • Extreme weather
  • Illness
  • Lack of sleep
  • Exposure to environmental irritants

Smokers also have a greater chance of having adult acne, as well as people who suffer from allergies and migraines. Air pollution can also cause adult acne.   

How An Underlying Condition Can Be The Cause Of Your Acne

Contact Dermatitis

Many substances can irritate the skin. Contact dermatitis is a reaction to an irritant that causes an itchy skin rash or inflammation. Substances like chemicals in cleaning products or allergens from poison ivy are examples of these irritants. Sometimes, even razor on dry skin can cause a reaction, too. 


Propionibacterium acnes is a bacterium that, when present in the skin, can cause acne. These bacteria can often go undisturbed even with washing and can build up under the skin. 


Medications have also been known to cause acne. These are antidepressants, epilepsy treatments, and corticosteroids. There were instances where contraceptives were used to treat acne, but certain formulations may have actually triggered acne instead. Consult your doctor to help you choose the formula that works best for you.       

Clogged Pores

Your skin pores contain oil glands that produce oil for your skin called sebum. Excess sebum clogs your pores and gets trapped, which is the start of redness and swelling and, possibly, acne. Oily skin is especially susceptible to this.

Cosmetics can also combine with your skin oil to set off acne cosmetica, a type of break out caused by cosmetics. A combination of these three—dirt, oil, and makeup—can result in a build-up that clogs pores, trapping bacteria and causing acne breakouts. For women, they need to thoroughly clean their face to rid the skin of these pore-clogging irritants.      

Food And Acne

Although there is no scientific proof that food like sugar, chocolate, or greasy food cause acne, there seems to be certain kinds of food that could trigger acne for some people. If you notice that certain kinds of food cause your acne to break out, avoid them. 


When pimples occur—at any age—know that they do so for a reason. Find out what’s causing those breakouts as the culprit just might not be skin-deep.  

Written by George K.

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