What is acne caused by and how can I treat it?

What is acne caused by?

Medically known as Acne Vulgaris, Acne is generally caused by hormonal changes in the body and is mainly found in teenagers when they hit puberty. Acne can continue on into adulthood but is very rare. One of the most commonly asked questions is, What is acne caused by? In this article, we try to answer your questions and concerns.


According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States and the UK. Acne can be very painful, but not life-threatening. It can, however, cause emotional distress and heartache for anyone suffering from Acne. 

Acne is directly attributed to the increase in androgen hormone levels, that puberty brings and is the main reason acne is prevalent in adolescence.

The oil glands directly underneath the skin enlarge and increase also known as sebum, which blocks the tiny holes in your skin called Pores. When the pores are filled with excessive sebum, it can cause the cells walls to rupture and create a breeding ground for P. Acne bacteria. As the sebum then try to push out of the pores, it can attach to this infectious bacteria and dead skin cells, causing a blockage that begins and that’s how the dreaded pimples are formed.

Acne breakouts can be caused by other areas of your life not just hormones like poor hygiene and your working environment, using the wrong products on your face and smoking. All can be contributing factors to controlling acne.

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When asked this question most people will say, Spots on your face. Acne, however, can affect almost anywhere on your body but Is mainly contained around your neck, face.

There are a number of different types of Acne and it’s important to know which one you have so you can get the correct treatment for your condition.

Always seek medical advice from your Doctor or GP for correct diagnosis and treatment plan. Below we have listed the most common types of Acne.

  • ACNE VULGARIS – Common acne normally contained on the face, neck, and shoulders. Acne vulgaris can appear on your buttocks, this is more common than you might think but is less talked about for obvious reasons but still needs treating. Acne vulgaris can progress quickly to more severe forms if not addressed, so seek treatment as soon as you become aware of having acne vulgaris.
  • COMEDONAL ACNE –  A subset of acne vulgaris and is set into two categories. Comedones may be opened or closed and each type determines whether you develop a blackhead or just bumps.








  • Open comedone- are better known as blackheads. It occurs when a plug of oil becomes trapped within the hair follicle. The top of the plug is open to air and darkens to form a typical blackhead.
  • Closed comedones happen when the pore opening is obstructed and the plug of oil and skin cells is not exposed to air. The plug doesn’t turn black, instead we mostly just notice a bump on the skin. The bump isn’t red, nor inflamed, and it doesn’t hurt. It just looks and feels bumpy.
  • CYSTIC ACNE – Is one of the most severe forms of acne. It can affect anywhere on the face or body. With cystic acne, inflammation is more severe, and you’ll get large, painful blemishes (or cysts). Acne cysts occur deeper in the skin than your regular pimples, and can take weeks to heal, they can also cause a lot of damage to the skin. You will need oral prescribed medication available from you Doctor,GP or dermatologist.
  • NODULAR ACNE – both men and women get Nodular acne but women are more prone to get them just before their monthly cycle. Breakouts are large, hard and deep blemishes called nodules. Treatment is through your Dr or GP.
  • ACNE MECHANICA – Acne mechanica is a type of acne that can affect anyone, but it’s especially common for athletes, students, and soldiers. It is triggered by excess heat, pressure, friction or rubbing of the skin. Your skin feels rough and lumpy, even though you can’t see actual pimples. As Acne mechanica progresses, these tiny breakouts patches become irritated and progress to more obvious, inflamed blemishes as heat is trapped against the body.
  • ACNE COSMETICA – As the name may suggest, acne cosmetica is a type of acne triggered by the use of cosmetic products. This isn’t limited to makeup, as any products applied to the face and the surrounding areas can instigate this type of breakout.
  • ACNE ROSACEA – Rosacea can sometimes be incorrectly diagnosed with acne vulgaris. Read our article on ROSACEA.
  • EXCORRIATED ACNE – Excoriated acne is a type of acne with a unique cause. The word excoriate means to tear or scratch off the skin. Excoriated acne is characterized by an intense, uncontrollable urge to squeeze and pick at every pimple on the skin
  • OTHER SKIN CONDITIONS – Many other skin conditions can be confused with acne, read our section on other skin conditions here by clicking this link.

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Severity of your Acne

  • MILD ACNE – Very few pimples and spots and blemishes. Treatable with over the counter medication and creams. Mild acne can progress to the more severe forms, though, so it’s best to treat it early.
  • Moderate Acne – With moderate Acne you still have blackheads and pimples but breakouts will be more noticeable and harder to control. Normal over the counter treatments may not work. You will need to seek medical advice to step up the course of treatment. You will start to feel more self-conscious and worried about going out in public when you have an acne outburst.
  • Severe Acne – The main difference when you suffer from severe acne is the inflammation of the area affected. You will start to get large red blemishes and red inflamed areas. You must see a dermatologist for more advanced treatments. Also, talk to your Doctor about moral support and you’ll need to think about treating possible emotional aspects of your condition.


  1. A balanced diet is recommended because it’s good for your heart and your health in general, but makes very little difference to your acne.
  2. Acne is caused by having dirty skin. WRONG! The biological reactions that trigger acne occur beneath the skin, not on the surface
  3. Squeezing pimples and blackheads will help get rid of acne. WRONG! This could actually make the symptoms worse and may leave you with scarring.
  4. Sexual activity can worsen your acne – WRONG! Having sex or masturbating will not make your acne better or worse.
  5. Acne is contagious? WRONG! You cannot catch acne from someone else.
  6. You will grow out of it – Hopefully, you will but not all teenagers grow out of acne.
  7. Is sunscreen bad for acne? – Some sunscreens can irritate your skin, causing inflammation and breakouts. Some sunscreens might actually help. “Zinc oxide, a common active ingredient in sunscreens, this is known to help kill acne-causing bacteria.
  8. Hair products can affect acne? CORRECT! This can happen when the oils from your hair products continuously make contact with your face by your hair hitting the side of your head or forehead.
  9. Stress causes acne – Stress can aspirate your acne but won’t cause it, stress causes an increase in the hormonal imbalance in the body which can make your acne worse.

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There is no CURE for acne but we can manage the condition and stop the flare-ups. Like many other conditions like Eczema, there is no cure but we need to manage the condition with treatments and lifestyle changes to prevent the condition getting worse. By controlling Acne and other skin condition we limit the emotional damage they can have on us.

Here are some tips and products

Face washes – Avoid abrasive soaps and use face washes that remove dead skin cells, kill bacteria, eliminate excess oil and reduce redness like the ones we found on AMAZON

Whitehead removal

Professional and noninvasive extractor machines and treatments are available on AMAZON

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide has three actions – it kills germs (bacteria), it reduces inflammation and it helps to unplug blocked pores. It comes in different strengths – there is a 2.5%, 4%, 5% and 10% strength.


Light therapy

Light therapy uses a specific blue light which kills the bacteria deep within the skin and pores. Now available to use at home thanks to technology, they can be purchased from AMAZON.

Tea tree oil

Tea Tree Oil can be an awesome spot treatment for speeding up healing of pimples and breakouts, but there are certain things you need to watch out for, and not do. It’s perfect for pimples and spots but we wouldnt recommend it for all over your face.

We hope we have answered the question, What is acne caused by and we hope you find a suitable way to manage your condition.

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