The causes of acne are yet to be established. However certain causes and risk factors that have a definite link have been put forward.

Acne vulgaris are small papules or skin lesions, which commonly occur on the face, cheeks, neck, shoulders, and upper back. These are the areas of the body where the population of the sebaceous glands is the densest.

The various predisposing factors that lead to the development of acne on the cheeks, for example, are different from the factors that cause it to develop on the forehead or back.

Back acne could be due to regular long hours of driving, which leads to sweating and constant friction between the back and the driver’s backrest.

Acne on the cheeks could be due to the constant friction of the helmet strap against the cheeks.

Similarly, its presence on the forehead could be due to the constant friction of the front portion of the helmet against the forehead.

The appearance of one or two lesions can be called pimples, but a breakout of pimples, which persist is called acne.

You usually see them appearing during puberty but they can onset at any teenage. Adults may also experience them when certain causes present themselves. Acne is caused mainly due to hormonal changes that occur during puberty and teenage.

What are the causes of acne?

Even today, despite intense research, the exact cause of acne still remains unidentified. Risk factors have been identified but the reason behind the development of this skin condition associated with a particular risk still continues to elude us.

There are hormonal reasons, medical causes, and some foods that predispose to its development.

Hormonal changes during puberty

The root cause of acne is the hormonal change that takes place during different periods in life or due to certain conditions that bring about this change.

Acne commonly occurs during puberty and teenage and is the result of the hormonal changes that take place in the body at that period.

It is during puberty that the sebaceous glands come to life and start secreting sebum, an oily substance. This stimulation of the sebaceous glands is brought about by the male sex hormones, androgens, secreted by the adrenal glands at puberty in both males and females.

Androgens include the male sex hormone, testosterone, which is found in higher quantities in boys and girls during this adolescent period.

Our skin has a number of small pores and these pores are connected to the sebaceous glands. These sebaceous glands secrete the sebum through the pores onto the skin. The dead skin cells are also got rid of through these pores onto the skin.

It is during puberty that the level of the androgen hormone rises, which causes more secretion of sebum. During this period, the hormonal changes that take place in the body, stimulate the sebaceous glands to secrete more sebum, which results in the clogging of the skin pores.

Dead skin cells get trapped inside the clogged pores. Bacterial infection sets in. This clogging gives rise to swelling and results in pimples.

 A pimple is an inflamed elevated area of the skin with or without pus formation that results from excess sebum and dead skin cells getting trapped in the pores of the skin. An outbreak of pimples is called Acne.

Genetic causes

Some studies indicate that predisposition to acne could also be genetic. If one or both of your parents had this condition, it is likely that you could also inherit the trigger factors that cause overproduction of sebum and subsequent clogging of the hair follicles.

It is a fact that acne is more commonly seen in children of parents who had or have acne than in children of parents who have not developed it in their lifetime. Research has no explanation for this occurrence

Certain cosmetics

Another cause could be the consistent use of greasy cosmetics. Acne caused by cosmetics is called acne cosmetica. Avoid using greasy products that contain pimple-stimulating products such as cocoa butter, mineral oil, or cold cream.

Certain drugs cause acne

Some drugs contain androgens and can give rise to acne as a side effect. Other drugs include steroids, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, stopping or starting oral contraceptives, anti-seizure drugs, and lithium.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also stimulate acne formation. Many women develop it usually during the first and the second trimesters. During this time, there is an increase in the androgen hormones (testosterone), which stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin to secrete more sebum.

The excess sebum produced can clog the skin pores and cause accumulation of sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Over time, this can present as an elevation, get inflamed, and develop into acne

High glycemic foods

According to a new study published in the journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a diet containing high glycemic index foods is linked to acne. These foods are foods that contain carbohydrate-rich foods and dairy products.

Examples are salty foods, whey foods, chocolate, shellfish, peanuts, white bread foods, and more.


Emotional stress is a factor, which does not cause acne but can aggravate an existing condition. The acne and stress link is yet to be explained, but that there is a link, is established. Students do see a flare-up of this existing condition during stressful times, like for example during an exam.

What should you do?

Whatever be the cause, getting the same promptly treated helps in early cure and prevents the development of acne scars.

Additionally, you could use some natural home remedies for mild conditions, or for moderate and severe cases in which these remedies act as adjuvants to the drugs prescribed.

However, if you are prone to developing it due to existing risks, you could do well to adopt measures that help to prevent acne.