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Learn How to Start Managing Acne at Every Stage

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It causes whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages. It is not caused by bacteria, although bacteria play a role in its development. It is not unusual for some people to develop acne in their mid-to-late-20s. Over 90% of the population suffer from some form of acne throughout their lifetime, mainly being affected between the ages of 12-30. What’s more annoying than having acne is not knowing what causes it. Acne bacteria lives on the skin and its overgrowth around your oil glands can worsen inflammation and pus formation. This is what causes acne to hurt sometimes.


Acne breakouts occur when the skin’s oil glands are overactive and pore become inflamed and they appear anywhere on the skin, mostly on the face. Certain types of bacteria make acne breakouts worse.

To prevent or treat acne breakouts, we need to know the underlying causes of this skin condition.

Causes of acne breakouts are the following:

  • Excess sebum production

  • Stress

  • High Glycemic Index Diet

  • Certain Drugs

  • Sleep Disorder

  • Dehydration

  • Dirty pillowcases

  • Comedogenic skincare products

  • Hormonal Imbalance

  • Too much Cleansing

Excess sebum production– “25% of adults get acne because of excess sebum production” When your glands are producing just the right amount of sebum, your skin looks healthy, but not shiny. Too little sebum can lead to dry, cracking skin. Too much sebum in a follicle can cause a hardened plug to form, which can then lead to various forms of acne. Many issues like the ones mentioned above can lead to excess sebum production.

Stress - Stress can cause an increase in hormones called cortisol. Life gets hard sometimes but you should not get to the point where everything stresses you out. When you have stressed it causes inflammation throughout the body, causing acne to come about. Find activities that will make you less stressed such as exercising or reading to stay stress-free. Whatever makes you happy will keep you from stressing about life and will reduce your acne.

High Glycemic Index diet– Another cause of an acne breakout would be a diet that isn't right for you. It can be something like not enough nutrients, or a high glycemic index diet. For others, certain foods like dairy are an issue that causes acne. If you need to get to the root of your breakouts, then your diet is one of the first things to assess. It might be that your skin is responding negatively to certain foods, like carbohydrates. This is often genetic, though, as every person has different levels of tolerance to these things.

Unhealthy foods and acne are often linked, but the reasons behind why junk food causes acne are not often explored. More research is needed, and the results of studies on blood sugar’s role in acne are debated among professionals. The leading theory is that this spike in blood sugar contributes to inflammation throughout the body and can cause sebum production to increase.

Certain Drugs– Certain medications can also be a cause of acne breakouts. Drugs or medicines such as corticosteroids, lithium, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids, DHEA, and other types them can cause acne breakouts to occur. You should not discontinue taking a medication without consulting your doctor first to see what workaround is safe.

Sleep Deprivation – Getting adequate sleep each night is essential for your health, including your skin. If you’re looking to improve the health and appearance of your skin, consider adding a few more hours of sleep to your routine. It lowers your stress levels, preventing the overproduction of cortisol, a hormone that in turn causes the body to produce excess sebum. All that to say, by resting up, you keep your pores clear and your mind calm. People who report having poorer sleep quality are more likely to have worse acne. Fatigue upon waking up is also strongly associated with acne

Sleep deprivation is considered one of the three main acne triggers, along with stress and sweating. Studies have borne this out. It's possible that by disrupting your hormones, sleeplessness also unsettles the chemical balance in your skin that wards off pimples. During sleep, your body releases growth hormones, which help with cell and tissue repair and restore your skin.

Dehydration– Our body needs 75% of water to stay hydrated. If you’re dehydrated, your body may signal your skin’s oil glands to produce more oil. Dehydration also gives your skin a dull appearance and promotes inflammation and redness.

A lack of water supply impairs your body’s ability to self-regulate. That means your body could produce excess sebum—more than it already would to keep the skin hydrated—and could in turn clog pores. Oftentimes, dehydration also leads to an accumulation of dead skin cells that can plug up a pore.

Dirty pillowcases– Pillowcases can cause or contribute to acne breakouts if they are not regularly washed. Acne Mechanica is any type of acne that is the result of material or objects touching your face. When your pillowcase isn't washed regularly, it can hold onto dirt and oils. This gets transferred onto our skin when we sleep for hours at a time in contact with our pillow which can lead to more breakouts.

To remedy this, wash your pillowcases every week at the very least, and be sure to wash your face and rinse your hair of all products before you pass out on your bed.

Comedogenic skincare products-Certain ingredients in your skincare products—moisturizer, toner, and sunscreen—are notorious for clogging your pores and causing you to break out. Mineral oil, lanolin, and wax are the usual offenders, which dermatologists call “comedogenic” meaning it's the ability to clog the pores.

Hormonal imbalance- Hormonal fluctuations can lead to acne in pregnancy and around the time of menopause. Researchers note that women who experience acne around menopause usually have androgen levels within the normal range, but falling estrogen levels.

It may be this imbalance that gives rise to acne flares. As hormones reach a “tipping point,” the new hormonal ratios lead to additional stimulation of the glands that produce sebum triggering new acne breakouts.

Too Much Cleansing – Getting so obsessed with clearing your face to the point of overdoing it can also lead to acne breakouts. Cleansing your face is the first and one of the most important steps of not only Korean but every skin routine. We repeat it over and over again, cleansing eliminates impurities, dirt, and excessive sebum. It is the first step in the process of creating radiant skin. However, there can be a dark side to everything if you overdo it or use

When your skin is being over-cleansed, it means it is being stripped of all the natural oils that keep your skin healthy.

When should someone start acne treatment?

Since everyone gets acne at some time, the right time to treat it is when it becomes bothersome or when the potential for scarring develops. This can be when severe acne flares suddenly, for mild acne that just won't go away, or even when a single pimple decides to show up the week before one's prom or wedding.


Everyone deals with acne, but the steps we take to improve acne breakouts may just help with it.

You may follow these tips to help prevent any further acne breakouts:

  • Clean your face

  • Moisturization

  • Good to know your skin type

  • Don’t fiddle your face

  • Stay hydrated

  • Use non-comedogenic Product

  • Switch to healthy foods

  • Practice Yoga and exercises regularly


One of the most important steps in preventing acne breakouts is washing your face properly, but not to the point of overdoing it. Use a gentle cleanser as well.

To keep your face clean and clear, wash it once in the morning and right before bed. If your face feels oily during the day, you can use blotting paper to remove the excess oil rather than washing it again - or select a more hydrating cream cleanser.


Moisturizers help keep your skin hydrated but are careful with the type of moisturizers you pick out as some of them may contain ingredients that may harm your skin including mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, or unnecessary dyes. To help prevent pimples, use fragrance-free, non-comedogenic moisturizers after you wash your face or when your skin feels dry.


Whether you have normal skin, dry skin, oily skin, or a combination of any of these three, you’re not exempted from experiencing an acne breakout but no worries since you can prevent them. Knowing your skin type will help you choose the right skincare products. For example, if your skin is oily, choose non-comedogenic products that are formulated to not block pores and you may choose more water-based products instead of ones that contain higher amounts of oils.


Even if you wash your hands fairly often, your fingers are still home to myriad germs and bacteria that could be transferred to your skin if you touch your face. Every time you touch your face, you could be transferring impurities to your skin which could clog your pores and trigger a breakout.

Popping pimples is a big no-no. When you pop pimples or pick at them this will cause them to more likely scar! At all costs try not to do this as acne scars can take a lot longer to treat compared to acne. Also when you pop them, it will cause an open wound, therefore, bacteria will be able to get in a pimple and cause it to take even longer to heal.


Skin dehydration can also lead to acne breakouts, so to prevent them from occurring, keep your body re-hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water each day.


It’s okay to wear makeup once in a while or occasionally, but wearing it every day even when you’re just at home isn't necessary when you want to keep your skin acne-free. Instead of wearing heavy foundations, try a tinted moisturizer or opt for a light layer of powder foundation instead. Avoid greasy formulas and try to wear as little makeup as you can to achieve the desired effect.


Believe it or not, your diet has something to do with acne breakouts as well. It can either make you or break you. High glycemic foods and beverages such as chips, baked goods made with white flour, and soft drinks spike blood sugar levels. Try to balance between eating large amounts of high sugar foods, moderate amounts are likely not to affect you but it depends on how sensitive you are to the foods.


When you exercise this can relieve stress, which is a big cause of breakouts. Also, doing physical activity can increase your blood circulation; this sends more oxygen to your skin and carries away the waste in your cells. However, if you do sweat while exercising, be sure to wash your face afterward so it does not irritate your skin and cause breakouts.

If you notice persistent acne even after following the above tips, don’t be harsh on yourself and your skin, consult a dermatologist immediately. It may take time for your skin to improve so be patient and give your skin the time it needs to fully recover.

Visit Dr. Hawelia’s Skin Clinic to explore the advanced treatment options for all types and grades of acne today!

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