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What Causes Acne: Factors That Aggravate The Skin Condition

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Mar 16, 2023

What Causes Acne: Factors That Aggravate The Skin Condition

Have you ever had acne? You probably remember how it looked like and felt like. Sometimes, acne can occur not just on our faces but also on the chest, back, and neck. Most teenagers going through puberty are affected by this condition. But what causes acne? 

What is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition where sebum, an excess oil substance in the skin, combines with dead skin cells and bacteria that clog the pores. A closed clogged pore that results in a small bump on your skin is called a whitehead, while a dark open clogged pore is called a blackhead.

Sometimes, pores open up to make way for the bacteria, dead skin, and oil inside the surface of the skin, and this is when pimples start to develop. Occasionally, acne that opens up very deep in the skin can cause nodules to become infected. These infected cysts and lumps are bigger than pimples and can become very painful due to swelling.

In some instances, acne heals slowly and naturally. But in other cases, it worsens and increases. It can cause emotional distress and leave scars on the skin. Early treatment can help reduce the risk of this skin condition.

Factors for Developing Acne

Some people believe that hormonal changes are the only causes of acne but there are other factors to consider. Here are some that contribute to the development of acne:


Pollution and weather can affect the development of acne. Exposure to dirt and grease may clog the pores and produce acne and pimples. Weather also plays a part in the development of acne as heat and humidity increase the production of the oil glands in the skin. Even during the wintertime, acne can still develop due to skin dehydration. 

Hormonal Changes

Acne can also develop during hormonal changes during puberty. In females, acne breakouts also start to manifest upon menstruation. Some teens may also experience acne due to sensitivity to increased hormonal levels.


Acne can be genetic or hereditary. If both parents are acne-prone, there is a high chance that you will also experience this. The severity of the condition may vary if a parent may have the genes that produce acne while the other parent may have a strong inflammatory response from bacteria. However, if only one of the parents has acne, the chances of you developing acne are lower.

Skin Type

We tend to have two types of skins – oily skin and dry skin. Both skin types are likely to produce acne. Oily skin is prone to acne because of excess oil, while dry skin may irritate the pores due to dehydration and lack of oil. However, acne for both skin types can be treated. Consult your dermatologist for the best skincare routine.

what causes acne


Allergies do not cause acne per se. However, acne is caused by dealing with allergic reactions. Since the body is fighting off allergies, our skin tends to produce small bumps, which may cause an acne breakout.

Cosmetic Products

There are makeup products that clog the pores and cause acne. Wearing makeup while you have an acne breakout may aggravate the condition. However, certain skincare products can help treat and prevent acne. It’s best to consult a dermatologist for products appropriate for your skin type. 

Skin Conditions

It is not just the environment, genes, and allergies that cause acne. There are also skin conditions that produce or worsen acne such as rosacea and keratosis. These are often mistaken as acne. 

  • Rosacea. It is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that causes acne and pimples on the nose, forehead, cheeks, and chin. It is more common in women than men and usually develops at the age of 35.
  • Keratosis Pilaris. This skin condition is due to the buildup of keratin that results in skin bumps. The redness of these skin bumps is similar to the texture of sandpaper. These bumps are usually found on the back of upper arms, thighs, buttocks, and at the face. These can be mistaken as acne.

Key Takeaways

Acne is the most common skin disorder in people across age brackets. But it usually manifests in teenagers who are going through hormonal changes.

Factors that trigger acne breakouts include the environment, weather, skin types, skin conditions, genes, and allergic reactions. However, some skin conditions such as rosacea and keratosis pilaris are often mistaken as acne. Acne breakouts can be treated and prevented by skincare routines or medical assistance. Consult your dermatologist. 

Learn more about Acne here. 


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

Medically reviewed by

Martha Juco, MD


Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Mar 16, 2023

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