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Main Causes of Acne: Who Is Most at Risk for Getting Acne?

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · General Practitioner

Updated Mar 29

    Main Causes of Acne: Who Is Most at Risk for Getting Acne?

    What Is Acne?

    Acne is a common skin condition which occurs when the pores of the skin become blocked by various substances like dead skin cells, sebum, and bacteria. This results in blackheads, whiteheads, inflammatory papules, nodules and cystic lesions. Find out the contributing factors and main causes of acne below.

    Acne is very common among teenagers and young adults. It is estimated 80% of people ages 11 to 30 will have it. Clinically, it can present as mild, moderate, or severe. Mild acne is when you have a few pimples. Moderate acne is when you have more papules, or inflamed bumps. Severe acne is when you have nodules and cysts, which are deep, solid, or pus-filled pimples1.

    Main Causes of Acne

    There are many causes of pimples on face in adult. Acne occurs when the little openings on the outer layer of the skin become obstructed. These little openings are called pores. Below are the main causes of acne. 

  • Oil and dead skin may fill up pores in the skin. These may result in non-inflamed plugs or comedones1, 5. There are two types of plugs: If the top of the plug is white, it is called a whitehead while blackhead if the top is dark5 
  • If microbes or bacteria become trapped inside the pores, the body’s immune system may attack them, causing an inflammation in the skin and cause pimples.5 Acne is caused by which bacteria? Propionibacterium acnes may play a role in the formation of acne.
  • Excessive or high production of oil is one of the m
  • ain causes of acne and pimples. The excess oil may stay in the pore and can obstruct the sebaceous duct making a blockage inside the follicle6.
  • Risk Factors for Acne

    • Age – People of all ages can experience skin breakouts, but it most commonly occurs during adolescence. Hormonal changes in young people cause the sebaceous glands in the skin to become more active. These oil glands become larger and produce more sebum, or skin oil, which results in acne.2
    • Genetics – Heredity plays a role in acne.  If both of your parents had acne, you are most likely going to experience it as well.2
    • Greasy or oily substances on your skin – It helps to read the labels of your skincare products and make sure these are not oil-based. Oil-based lotions and creams may result in acne.2
    • Friction or strain – Using items or articles of clothing that consistently rub or scrape your skin may lead to acne.2 This includes tight clothing, cellphones, backpacks, and tight collars. It helps to wear loose or light fabric clothing to avoid having acne.2
    • Medication side effect – Certain medications can be a risk factor for developing acne. These include drugs containing corticosteroids, testosterone, or lithium.2
    • Skin Type – Skin type can be a factor as well. There are two types of skin — oily and dry skin. Oily skin is more vulnerable to acne due to excess sebum production. However, the pores of dry skin may also experience irritation due to dehydration and absence of oil.3

    Talk to Your Dermatologist

    It is important to seek treatment for acne because of possible acne complications2. These include acne scars which may remain long after the acne itself has healed. Pigmentary changes remain after the acne has been cleared. The affected skin may become darker or hyperpigmented, or lighter or hypopigmented2.

     There are many treatment medications and modalities to improve your acne based on the severity  of the lesions. Early treatment is a key to avoiding bad consequences of acne, such as acne scars. It is best to consult a board-certified dermatologist in the Philippines to assess and tailor fit the proper management and treatment for your acne.

    If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

    Suffering from acne? Try our acne severity screener and our acne scarring risk screener, and get connected to a dermatologist in the Philippines.

    Please click here to send your questions or concerns. Foods, Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics Act prohibits dispensing of ethical or prescription medicines without prescription. For suspected adverse drug reaction, report to the FDA at

    Learn more about Acne here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Written by

    Hello Doctor Medical Panel

    General Practitioner

    Updated Mar 29

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