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Understanding the Causes and Complications of Acne

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

What does acne happen?

We know that acne is commonly explained to be a result of hair follicles being clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This may happen when there is excess oil production.

However, there are also other factors that can cause acne. In this article, we explore the different reasons for acne and more.

Stay with us to discover useful snippets of information that may help you understand this condition better!

The Leading Causes of Acne

  • Excessive oil production

  • Inflammation

  • Bacteria

  • Hair follicles that are blocked by oil and dead skin cells

We have pores on our skin that can become blocked by oil, dead skin cells, or bacteria.

Every pore opens up to a follicle that consists of a hair and oil gland. This oil gland is responsible for making sure that your skin is supple and lubricated.

To do so, it releases oil that moves up your hair, out of the pore, and settles on your skin.

When bacteria, dead skin cells or oil accumulate in the pore, and the bacteria develops and is unable to get out of it, it can contribute to pimples.

Risk Factors of Acne

Remember that you should distinguish the myths from the truths.

Many myths are unsupported by scientific evidence, but particular risk factors do exist that may exacerbate the development of acne.

They are:

  • Family history

  • Age

  • Hormonal changes

  • Contact with heavy, greasy or oily substances

  • Pressure or friction on the skin

Family History

If your parents had severe acne, you’re more likely to develop acne as well.


Age may play a part in the development of acne. For example, even though people of different ages can get acne, it is most prevalent in teenagers.

Hormonal Changes

Although acne can develop in babies, children, teenagers and adults, teenagers going through puberty are at high risk of experiencing acne.

This is due to the hormonal changes that happen, which in turn can lead to oil production. It should subside as you grow out of it.

Pregnant women may also experience an acne outbreak or worsening of existing symptoms.

Contact With Greasy or Oily Substances

Sometimes, the products you apply to your skin can worsen your existing acne.

Examples include chemical sunscreen, or makeup and skincare products that use harmful and oily ingredients that may trigger the skin.

If you notice acne happening in places where your skin comes into contact with the said substances, you may want to switch it out for a gentler and lighter formula.

Friction on Skin

Wear a helmet daily, use your smartphone to call frequently, or wear tight and formal workwear to the office that keeps rubbing against your skin?

All these situations may cause friction against your skin, and lead to a higher chance of acne developing on it.

Things That Can Trigger or Worsen Acne

  • A diet full of refined carbohydrates

  • Some types of medications

  • Stress


Love your buns, cakes, donuts and other refined carbohydrates? Even though studies are insufficient to conclude that eating plenty of these carbohydrates can worsen acne, some research has shown that it is possible.

Eating sweet and sugary foods in moderation may help to improve your existing acne.


Certain types of medications may spark or worsen acne. This includes drugs that have testosterone, lithium or corticosteroids.


Even though we’ve already established that stress doesn’t cause acne, it can cause existing acne to get worse.

Acne Complications

There are a couple of acne complications that may affect those with darker skin in particular.

For example, even after your acne has long healed or improved, acne scars may be left in its wake for a long period of time.

The part of the skin that’s affected may also experience darkening or lightening compared to the colour before acne happened.

When You Should See a Doctor

Acne doesn’t clear by itself, and you should know when to seek help when needed.

If you’ve tried your self-care solutions like our natural anti-acne skincare remedies, or other over-the-counter products like salicylic acid without any results, it may be time to visit your dermatologist.

This is especially so if you notice your acne worsening or getting severe to the point that it affects you mentally.

The Bottom Line

There are a few causes and complications of acne, and while some may be difficult to avoid, you can take proper steps to help improve your condition.

Understand when you should seek treatment and professional help. You can always start with relooking your skin care routine and the products you use. We recommend finding the right blend of ingredients that are suitable for your skin.

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