Why Acne Occurs and How do we treat it?

Acne problem and solutions

Why Acne Occurs and How do we treat it?

Acne has become one of the biggest insecurities of our daily life. It deforms our facial appearance, dispatches our skin, and lowers our self-confidence. The answers to the questions for why acne occurs? What are the acne symptoms, types, causes, and ways to deal with it? Are explained in this article.

Acne problems have become a most common phenomenon among people. Over 45 million people were affected by Acne issues in the United States alone. In that, it is estimated that above the age of 25, about 54% of women and 40% of men have acne issues. Furthermore, studies identified that adolescents, i.e., from age 16-19, have become the crucial victims of acne issues. The range of those victims may vary from 79% to 95%.  Fortunately, there are several ways to treat acne and they are listed in this article.

People are often misled by believing that acne occurs due to improper skincare, which is not completely true.

What is Acne?

When the hair follicles in the skin get blocked, the sebaceous glands that lubricate sebum to keep the skin moisturized stop. This causes the skin to dry out and cause Acne. The hair follicles are tiny holes through which the sebaceous glands secrete the sebum. When the formation of sebum multiplies than usual, it gets mixed with the dead cells to form a plug inside the follicle.

Sometimes, the lack of skin density causes the plug to form outside, which is known to be a whitehead. On the other hand, the plugged follicle may open, creating a blackhead.

What are the types of Acne?

We have already mentioned the two acnes above, i.e., whiteheads and blackheads. These two acnes are non-inflammatory and are easily treatable. Let’s look into those and other complicated acne that can occur.

To the record, 6 types of Acne occur for different reasons in your body. They are,

  1. Whiteheads
  2. Blackheads
  3. Papules
  4. Pustules
  5. Nodules
  6. Cysts

1. Whiteheads

Whiteheads are caused by the clogged pores in your skin. These clogged pores are a collection of bacteria, oil, or dead skin cells in your skin. Whiteheads may also be caused by hormonal changes.

Breaking the whiteheads will leave a scar on your skin. So, it is advised not to try squeezing it. To treat whiteheads, doctors often prescribe sulfur, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide to get rid of oil, and bacteria from the skin.

2. Black Heads

Blackheads are similar to whiteheads but can be seen as black spots as the head of the clogged pores remain open while the other parts of the pores remain open. Squeezing them or pulling them will only leave scars behind.

To treat blackheads, similar treatments for whiteheads can be carried out. Using pore strips to remove the blackheads can cause permanent damage to your skin and makes your acne even worse.

3. Papules

When a certain bacterium called Cutibacterium acnes is mixed with your skin’s oil or cells to form a red bump. The blocked pore spills out and enters other tissues surrounding it. As a result, the bacteria create an inflamed lesion.

The benzoyl peroxide which possesses antibacterial activity is effective with papules. Furthermore, medications like retinoid, antibiotics, or birth control pills (for women with menstrual issues) that are suggested by dermatologists can treat the papules.

4. Pustules

Pustules are often found to be like bulged bumps with a white center surrounded by inflamed red skin. Pustules can be found in the chest, face, or back. Pustules are associated with hormonal issues or infected pores. They resemble papules but have a yellowish fluid called pus.

5. Nodules

Nodular acne forms under the skin and looks fleshy or red bumps. This Acne is painful due to the infections caused by the C. acnes bacteria.

OTC treatment methods are less effective in nodular acne. So, medications such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinoids are prescribed. On severe infections, doctors recommend using laser or chemical peel methods to remove the outer layer of the skin.

6. Cysts

The severe form of acne is cysts, also known as cystic acne. This acne appears to be filled with pus, large, inflamed, red, and is painful. They are easily burstable and infect the skin around them.

This type of acne is difficult to treat and dermatologists may suggest medications like isotretinoin, topical retinoids, spironolactone to reduce the androgen levels. But some medications like birth control pills, spironolactone can cause side effects.

What are the main causes of Acne?

Acne can be caused due to various issues like the increased level of testosterone, Family genes, menstruation issues, hormonal issues, and other factors. Diagnosing them earlier and treating them with the right medications can cure the acne problems with ease.


When the production of testosterone in our body increases or is unbalanced, Acne occurs. Often, this type of acne occurs during the puberty period. The sebaceous glands are more sensitive in nature, especially with hormones like testosterone.

Family Genes

Acne can develop due to the history of acne in the previous generation. In case, if both of your parents have acne problems, you are most likely to get severe acne infections. Fortunately, every acne can be treated well and retains your skin’s hygiene.

Acne in Women

Women undergo more hormonal changes than men. The hormonal fluctuations are common in women as they experience menstruation every month. The most common times when the acne in women hikes up are,

  • Pregnancy– During the first 3 months of pregnancy, many women experience the signs of acne in their skin.
  • Menstruation– Often the acne hikes during the menstrual period and can become worse due to late or early periods.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome– This is a common condition in women that causes weight gain, formation of small cysts, acne, etc.

Related: See how Period Cramps affects women’s life

Other risk factors causing Acne
  • Cosmetics– wrong products for wrong skin can dry out your skin or over-activate it and worsen the acne on your skin. Although the products are tested nowadays, there are mild effects that come through cosmetics.
  • Medications– Steroids, lithium, and certain drugs to treat mental disorders, epilepsy, etc., can stimulate the acne on your skin.
  • Wearing tight– things like headbands, jackets, backpacks contaminate sweat in the skin and leads to developing bacteria on the skin.
  • Smoking– You can witness old people having acne due to their smoking habits.

What are the symptoms of Acne?

Acne may look normal at the initial stage but tends to leave marks and infect more in time. They are likely to appear on the body parts such as the face, forehead, upper back, shoulders, and chest. So, looking closely at the symptoms and signs could help you to detect the infection of Acne at an earlier stage.

  1. Whiteheads look like plugged pores that are completely closed
  2. Blackheads look like the plugged pores that are open at the top
  3. Papules can be identified with small tender red bumps
  4. Pustules (Pimples) are papules with pus at the tips
  5. Nodules can be denoted with solid, large, and painful lumps under the skin.
  6. Cystic lesions are found by pus-filled lumps that can be extremely painful.

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When to visit a doctor for Acne Problems?

If your Acne persists or becomes worse while the home/natural remedies failed, you might need to visit the doctor. The professionals who specialize in treating skin problems are known as Dermatologists or pediatric dermatologists.

For women, Acne occurs mostly in the menstrual period. So, controlling menstruation with contraceptive pills and maintaining a balanced diet can reduce it to a greater extent.

FDA instructs that usage of non-FDA cosmetic products might severe your acne. So, in such a case when you experience any

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Faintness
  • Tightening of throat
  • Swelling of skin

Seek a doctor immediately.

Home Remedies for treating Acne

Food Remedies that help acne

Tea: Green tea and other herbal teas are naturally good for your skin. The polyphenols in the tea benefit your skin by reducing sebum production and treating acne.

Honey: Honey is a traditional medicine that was used to treat acne in the olden days. Honey is rich in antioxidants that help to clear the debris and waste from the clogged pores. It also has antibacterial and wound-healing benefits associated with it.

Garlic: Garlic is a base ingredient for most natural medicines that treat acne. Garlic is great at treating infections and boosting immune systems. The organosulfur in garlic has anti-inflammatory as well as antifungal properties that fight infections. You can also take garlic through foods or hot drinks.

Products that help acne

Moisturizers: Moisturizer retains the moisture in the skin, and heals the dry skin. Using aloe vera or other moisturizers over the skin can soothe your skin and prevent inflammation of pores. Aloe vera is also effective in fading out acne scars and prevents breakouts.

Echinacea: Purple coneflower, also known as Echinacea purpurea can destroy bacteria and viruses that include P. acnes. It also boosts your immune system, reduces inflammations, fights infections, and treats colds or flu.

Rosemary: Rosmarinus officinalis, simply known to be Rosemary, has the essentials that are antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory. It is an easily available extract nowadays and can treat acne much effectively.

Cleanser: Every skin has a different pH level. So, using the soap that matches your skin can reduce irritation and acne development. Using cleansers that have a pH of around 5.5 can heal the sores and get rid of the impurities.

Oil-free products: Oily skin causes acne is a myth. However, oil or other greasy products can block the pores and result in acne sores. So, it is better to avoid oily cosmetics on your skin.

Oils that treat Acne

Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can kill the P. Acnes bacteria that cause acne. Tea tree oil is much effective on both mild and moderate acne levels by reducing acne sores.

Jojoba Oil: A waxy substance that is extracted from a jojoba shrub is known as jojoba oil. It has the ability to repair damaged skin, speed the healing process, and reduce acne lesions. The essentials in the jojoba oil can also reduce skin inflammation, redness, and swelling around the acne.

Coconut oil: coconut oil is an antibacterial compound that can prevent infections as well as keep your skin moisturized. It can destroy the bacteria that cause swelling and redness of the pimples.

The lifestyle that helps acne

Diet: Having a balanced diet seems effective to control the acne on your face. For example, diets that include Vitamin A & E and Zinc can reduce the risk for severe acne. Also, a diet that contains low glycemic may help.

Hydration: Staying hydrated always replenishes your skin, heals the acne sores, and reduces the overall risk of outbreaks. Getting adequate water to your body also boosts the skin to develop new skin cells faster.

Reducing Stress: Stress is one of the major factors for acne development on your skin. An increase in stress causes the androgen level in the body to increase. The androgen stimulates the oil glands in pores and hair follicles, causing the acne to develop more. You can reduce the stress level by following these common practices.

  1. Spend time with close friends and family
  2. Get a sufficient amount of sleep
  3. Avoid balanced diets
  4. Exercise regularly
  5. Reduce the consumption of alcohol and caffeine
  6. Practice yoga, breathing, or meditation.

Some Myths on Acne you should not believe

Acne is a widespread skin condition around the world. So, it is easily misinterpreted by people with false facts and myths. So, let’s list out the myths so that you could avoid them in the future.

  • “Untidy skin and poor hygiene cause Acne”
  • “Squeezing and pulling the acne is the only way to treat acne”
  • “Having sex often can cause Acne”
  • “Poor diet cause acne”
  • “Acne is communicable”
  • “Over sun exposure cause acne”


If the home remedies don’t cure your acne, it is advised to seek medical advice. Acne does develop insecurities in person by leaving scars and marks. Fortunately, they are treatable and can be controlled using proper medication and maintaining a hygienic body.


Q1. Why does acne cause scars on my skin?

Acne is caused due to inflammation of pores and breakdown of pore walls. The fluid contents inside the plugged pores spill into the surrounding pores, infecting the skin causing scars.

Q2. Does eating Meat cause Acne?

It is not conclusively proven that meat can cause Acne, however, meats like chicken and beef contain a high amount of amino acid called leucine. An increase in leucine can stimulate the oil glands on the skin, making acne breakouts happen.

Q3. Will Makeup cause acne?

Using wrong Cosmetic or Makeup products for the wrong skin can dry out your skin or over-activate it and worsen the acne on your skin. Although the products are tested nowadays, there are mild effects that come through cosmetics.

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