Acne – What Are The Causes Of It?

Acne – What Are The Causes Of It?


By Dr. Nivedita Dadu, Dermatology

Generally people in their teenage, mostly within twelve to fifteen years of age develop spots on their skin. This is primarily a hormonal condition affecting boys more than girls. However even elder people sometimes develop acne. Though acne may appear harmless, if untreated it persists for several years.


There are various reasons that cause acne. Some of them are as follows:

1. Sensitivity to Hormones

Male hormone or androgen is what activates the development of acne. An individual who is sensitive to this hormone along with bacteria already present in the skin tends to suffer from acne.

2. Unsteady Hormone Levels

Women during menstruation undergo a fluctuation in their levels of hormones. This condition leads to the development of acne.

3. Certain Types of Clothing

Sometimes donning certain kinds of clothing proves to be an important cause for the development of acne. The material of the cloth may react with the skin causing acne. Similarly wearing tight headgears may have similar consequences on the skin.

The other causes could be -

Though acne affects any age group, it is most common in the teenage years and is attributed to the hormones called androgens. In women, there is also a hormonal correlation where acne is more common with menstrual cycles, pregnancy and polycystic ovaries - all conditions associated with increased hormone levels.

Various factors such as pollution, smoking, eating processed food and a sedentary lifestyle can also aggravate the problem.

Knowing some other causes of Acne in detail -

  1. Hormonal imbalance – This is probably the most common reason cited for acne as adolescents tend to be afflicted by this problem. In many cases acne goes away on its own after sometimes although in other cases it does stay. In adults, especially women it has been noticed that certain hormonal changes in the body may act as acne triggers. Some of the examples of hormonal imbalances may be:
    • PMS or period related triggers in adults and adolescent women
    • High testosterone levels in women
    • Excessive androgen in men and women
    • Hormonal problems due to PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and others
    • Taking medicines or steroids that may cause hormonal changes
  2. External factors such as using too much makeup – Excessive use of cosmetic products can cause issues within the skin by blocking the pores within the skin may induce acne, even if you  do not have sebum related problems.
  3. Diet – Research has proved that excessive oil consumption as well as having foods rich in fat can cause acne problems. Moreover, if you consume iodinein large quantities or for a long time, it results in irritation of the skin pores giving rise to acne.
  4. Certain medications and drugs - Consumption of specific over the counter medicines like the ones containing bromide and use of recreational drugs like marijuana and cocaine can lead to the occurrence of acne as side effects.
  5. Genetics - Certain genetic factors may also be responsible for someone being more prone to acne than others.
  6. Diet - Consumption of high glycemic index food (food items which release glucose rapidly in blood) also aggravates acne.
  7. Medications - Use of over the counter creams/ointments containing topical corticosteroids may also result in acne.


Though acne is a common cause of concern especially among young girls and boys, there are various treatments that can be availed of to get rid of it. Consulting a good Dermatologist, however, is mandatory to avoid and cure this irritating problem from the roots. The dermatologists need to conduct some investigation to provide the best line of treatment to their patients.