Causes of Acne: Five Myths You Should Not Believe

causes of acne

Waking up with painful zits on your face is every conscious teenager’s worst nightmare. For this age group, self-image matters a lot and getting pimples is worse than not attending a high school prom.


But what if acne breakouts happen during your mid-20’s? Or, worse, when you’re already in your 50’s?


This is when acne becomes a major skin concern.


Acne occurs when the sebaceous glands produce excessive sebum or oil. This results in a formation of plug which blocks the hair follicle and leads to skin inflammation.


So what really causes acne?

Causes of acne vary with age but without accurate information on hand, it’s easy to get swayed by misconceptions about this skin disorder.


Listed below are five popular causes of acne and why you should not believe them:


Acne is caused by stress.

There’s not enough scientific evidence which can prove how stress can lead to pimples. In fact, a study shows that not all students experience increased breakouts during final exams.
Stress may give you sleepless nights and increased levels of hormones. As a result, your skin fails to regenerate and even increase oil production. So in other words, stress can indirectly lead to acne although it might not be true for most people.


Acne only affects people during puberty.

Age doesn’t matter when it comes to pimples. Although hormonal changes during puberty can lead to more frequent and more serious breakouts, acne doesn’t guarantee immunity. As a matter of fact, National Institutes of Health (NIH) reveals that 80% of people between the ages 11 and 30 have experienced breakouts at some points.


People in their 40’s or even 50’s are not excused either. Although they get fewer acne than their younger counterparts, people in this age group mostly experience bigger, deeper, and more painful acne. These nodular pimples are commonly found in face, shoulders, back, and chest.


Acne is directly caused by a fatty diet.

Acne usually starts with sebum formation so it’s easy to assume that fatty foods such as chocolates and pizza could be the culprit. But scientific studies are not robust enough to support such claims.


Major causes of acne such as hormonal changes can’t be controlled with just diet alone. In some cases, eliminating ‘fatty’ foods  like milk products from your diet can even be detrimental to your health. Eating a balanced diet remains a healthier choice.


Acne is caused by poor hygiene

Washing your face with soap and tap water alone won’t help you get rid of acne. Jane Liedtka of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) underscores that neither hygiene nor sweating can lead to clog formation. In addition to that, use of facial cleansers for more than 3 times a day can actually worsen the pimples. Scrubbing is also not recommended as it won’t only lead to painful acne but also facial scarring in the long run.


Acne is caused by makeup

Most women won’t last a day without wearing a makeup. But if you have acne, the tendency is either you hide your makeup kit for a while or eliminate it completely. Health experts, however, suggest to use “non-comedogenic” makeup products instead. These may come in the form of loose powder foundations which can hide your acne without worsening it. As a general rule of the thumb, steer clear from oil-based makeup products than can further exacerbate your skin condition.
Causes of acne may range from hormonal imbalances to genetics. But to avoid worsening your condition, it’s best to forget some of the myths and misconceptions you have about acne. You can’t eliminate all causes of acne but one can get a clear complexion by keeping skin clean, healthy, and scar-free.



“Adult Acne Myths and Facts.” WebMD – Better information. Better health.. (accessed May 8, 2013).

“Facing Facts About Acne.” WebMD – Better information. Better health.. (accessed May 8, 2013).

Shaw, Gina. “Adult Acne Myths and Facts.” WebMD – Better information. Better health.. (accessed May 8, 2013).


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