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    1234 · 20 min read

    What causes acne?

    Acne is a common skin condition that causes spots to appear in the form of whiteheads, blackheads, nodules, pustules or cysts. The spots can often be painful, however, people with acne mainly suffer from a psychological point of view. Acne can cause embarrassment and self-consciousness and many people will struggle at some point in their lives. In this article, we will explain exactly what causes acne, as well as some other frequently asked questions regarding the topic. We will also mention how acne is treated, and how those suffering can completely change their skin fortunes.

    What causes acne?

    Acne spots appear when tiny pores in your skin (called hair follicles) become clogged or blocked, and this then bulges outwards to form a spot.

    All of your hair follicles have tiny glands called sebaceous glands attached to them. The sebaceous glands are responsible for producing oil to lubricate the skin and hair and prevent it from drying out.

    However, sometimes the sebaceous glands become overactive and the excess oil (mixed with dead skin cells) blocks the hair follicle. Depending on how close to the skin the blockage is will determine whether the spot appears as a blackhead or a whitehead.

    More aggressive forms of acne spots (such as pustules and cysts) develop from blackheads or whiteheads when bacteria that live on the skin (which are normally harmless) contaminate and aggravate the plugged hair follicle.

    Do Hormones cause acne?

    While the actual cause of acne spots is the overactive sebaceous glands, there are a number of factors that can lead to these glands working overtime.

    The sebaceous glands are extremely sensitive to hormones, especially androgens (like testosterone). This is why acne is so common in teenagers when they hit puberty; because the sudden spike in hormones can unbalance the sebaceous glands and cause oily skin and spots.

    Do Genetics cause acne?

    There’s also something to be said about genetics. Like a lot of other conditions, acne can run in families. So if your parents had acne, it’s likely that you could develop it too. This is also true for differentiating between teenage acne and adult acne; if a parent has adult acne then it’s more likely that you will too.

    Do female-only factors cause acne?

    Although teenage acne appears more common in boys (due to the testosterone factor and the fact that males produce more of it), adult acne is a lot more common in women. This can be due to a number of reasons, including the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). All of these things are heavily linked to hormones and most women who suffer from acne will notice a pattern between acne flare-ups and hormone level fluctuations.

    Treating acne

    How do you treat acne?

    Treatment for acne is not a one-size-fits-all and many sufferers have to try multiple different treatment options before finding one that works for them. There are topical options such as TretinoinAcnecide gel or Treclin gel, or antibiotic tablets like Lymecycline or Oxytetracycline. Women also have the option of certain anti-androgen contraceptive pills like Dianette and Clairette.

    Effective prescription treatments for acne can be bought from UK Meds without an existing prescription, by simply starting an online consultation.

    What is Tretinoin?

    Tretinoin is one of the most popular acne treatments that is available. In recent times, Tretinoin has risen in popularity due to the results it can provide being showcased on social media by influencers.

    How does Tretinoin work?

    Tretinoin works by increasing the turnover of skin cells. It will also unclog the pores of the skin which will initially prevent new acne from forming. Tretinoin binds itself to receptors in the skin known as retinoic acid receptors. These activate a series of chemical reactions that speed up the skin rejuvenation cycle. It causes the skin to shed old, dead cells that will be replenished with fresh, healthy new ones.

    Where can you buy acne treatments?

    You can purchase effective prescription treatments for acne, such as Tretinoin, online from UK Meds, all without the need for an existing prescription. You will need to complete a FREE online consultation form with us to ensure that the medication is right for you. Once successfully completed, you will then be able to complete your purchase.

    Do other triggers cause acne?

    Although not direct causes, there are a number of things that can trigger an acne flare-up. This includes certain cosmetic products (which usually vary from one person to another) or regularly wearing items that rub on the affected area.

    Smoking and certain medications can also trigger acne, particularly medications used to treat epilepsy, depression and bipolar disorder.

    Does creatine cause acne?

    NO. There is limited scientific evidence that suggests creatine usage causes acne. Whilst some people claim that their acne was caused by creatine, there is no conclusive evidence that this is the case.

    Does vaping cause acne?

    NO. There is currently no direct scientific evidence to suggest that vaping causes acne. However, there are some indirect ways in which vaping could contribute to acne breakouts.

    Does stress cause acne?

    YES. Stress can potentially contribute to acne development by increasing inflammation and oil production in the skin. Additionally, stress can lead to unhealthy habits like poor sleep and a poor diet, which can also contribute to acne breakouts.

    Does dairy cause acne?

    NO. Currently, there is not enough conclusive evidence that suggests dairy products can cause acne. 

    Does chocolate cause acne?

    NO. There is no clear scientific evidence that chocolate will directly cause acne however, it is one of the biggest rumoured causes.

    Does sugar cause acne?

    YES. A high sugar intake can contribute to the development of acne as it leads to increased insulin production which stimulates androgen hormones that can cause acne.

    Does milk cause acne?

    NO. Whilst some people believe that drinking or consuming milk will cause acne there is no conclusive evidence that backs up this claim. 

    Does smoking weed cause acne?

    YES. Smoking marijuana can contribute to acne breakouts. Smoking weed increased androgen hormones and also causes inflammation which both contributes to acne forming.

    Can kisses cause baby acne?

    NO. Kissing a baby is not likely to directly cause acne. Whilst kisses may transfer bacteria and other substances to the baby's skin there is a low chance it will cause baby acne.

    Does whey protein cause acne?

    YES. There is some evidence that suggests whey protein can contribute to the development of acne. 

    Can retinol cause acne?

    YES. For some people, using retinol can cause acne to start with, however, continuous use will see your condition improve over time. 

    Does moisturiser cause acne?

    YES. Moisturiser may cause acne if it is not suitable for your skin type, or if it contains pore-clogging ingredients.

    Can niacinamide cause acne?

    NO. Niacinamide does not cause acne. In fact, niacinamide can provide anti-acne benefits to the skin by regulating oil production and reducing inflammation.

    Can salicylic acid cause acne?

    NO. Salicylic acid is used in many skin care products to help treat and prevent acne. However, in some very rare cases conditions can worsen. 

    Can Vitamin C cause acne?

    NO. Vitamin C is not thought to contribute to acne production. Some people may find however that vitamin C causes skin irritation.

    Does hyaluronic acid cause acne?

    NO. Hyaluronic acid can actually provide benefits to acne-prone skin as it keeps the skin hydrated without clogging the pores. 

    Does masturbation cause acne?

    NO. Masturbation does not directly cause acne production. People may think that masturbation has a direct effect on hormone levels however this is not the case. 

    Does smoking cause acne?

    YES. Smoking can have a direct effect on acne production. It increases the production of sebum in the skin which clogs pores and leads to acne breakouts. 

    Does biotin cause acne?

    YES. In some cases, biotin can cause acne when it is taken in high dosages. This leads to an imbalance of vitamin B in the skin which leads to acne. 

    Does coffee cause acne?

    NO. There is no clear evidence that suggests coffee causes acne. Coffee is a stimulant however that can increase stress levels and hormonal fluctuations that may cause acne. 

    Does makeup cause acne?

    YES. Wearing makeup can contribute to acne development especially if it is not removed properly or if it is applied to oily or dirty skin. 

    Does sweat cause acne?

    YES. Sweat, when combined with bacteria, oil, or dead skin cells can clog pores and lead to the development of acne. 

    Can collagen cause acne?

    NO. There is no evidence that suggests that changing collagen levels can contribute to acne in the skin. 

    Can dry skin cause acne?

    YES. Having dry skin can contribute to acne development. When the skin is dry it may produce more oil to compensate. This can clog the pores and lead to acne.

    Can nicotine cause acne?

    YES. There is some evidence that suggests nicotine leads to acne. Nicotine narrows the blood vessels and reduces blood flow, decreasing oxygen levels in the skin.

    Do eggs cause acne?

    NO. Eating eggs or products with egg in them will not directly cause acne to develop. Eggs can in fact be beneficial for the skin as they are a source of vitamin A, D and zinc. 

    Does pregnancy cause acne?

    YES. Pregnancy can cause acne breakouts for some women. Hormonal fluctuations will lead to increased sebum production which can clog pores and develop acne. 

    Does progesterone cause acne?

    YES. During the menstrual cycle, hormonal imbalances (including progesterone levels) can lead to an acne breakout.

    Can dermarolling cause acne?

    YES. Dermarolling, also known as micro-needling, can cause acne as it can cause small tears in the skin that allow bacteria to enter. 

    Can multivitamins cause acne?

    NO. Multivitamins themselves do not cause acne, however, high dosages of certain vitamins and minerals can cause acne.

    Can the pill cause acne?

    YES. The contraceptive pill can make acne worse for some women. However, it depends on which pill you use, and some may even make acne better.

    Does alcohol cause acne?

    YES. Alcohol can contribute to the development of acne as it can dehydrate the skin and disrupt its natural balance. 

    Does cheese cause acne?

    NO. Currently, there is no clear evidence that suggests cheese will cause acne development however some studies suggest that certain types of cheese can contribute.

    Does dermaplaning cause acne?

    NO. Dermaplaning, which is a procedure performed to remove skin cells and vellus hairs, does not actively contribute to acne production.

    Does the implant cause acne?

    YES. The contraceptive implant can cause acne as it affects the hormonal balance in the body. This can affect the production of sebum in the skin. 

    Can gluten cause acne?

    NO. There is no direct link between acne and gluten. People with celiac disease of gluten sensitivity may experience skin issues. 

    Does oestrogen cause acne?

    YES. During the menstrual cycle, the oestrogen levels in the female body can fluctuate which can affect acne production. 

    Does high testosterone cause acne?

    YES. When someone has high testosterone levels their skin will produce extra sebum which can clog the pores and lead to acne formation.

    Does HRT cause acne?

    YES. When someone is undergoing hormone replacement therapy they may experience acne as a side effect due to hormone imbalances. 

    Can anti-depression pills cause acne?

    YES. Some anti-depressants can have acne production as a side effect due to the way that these medications affect hormone levels. 

    Can ashwagandha cause acne?

    NO. There is no scientific evidence that suggests that ashwagandha will cause acne. Ashwagandha has several health benefits including stress relief and reduced inflammation.

    Can COVID cause acne?

    YES. COVID-19 may cause people to suffer from several skin issues including an acne breakout, although cases of this kind are rare. 

    Summary Table: What Causes Acne?

    Potential Cause of Acne

    Does it Cause Acne?

    Baby KissesNO
    Whey ProteinYES
    Salicylic AcidNO
    Vitamin CNO
    Hyaluronic AcidNO
    Makeup YES
    Dry SkinYES
    Contraceptive PillYES
    Contraceptive ImplantYES
    High TestosteroneYES

    Medically Reviewed by:
    Dr. Alexis Missick MBChB. MRCGP
    GMC reference no: 7151419


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    Related Products

    From £34.99
    • Effectively treats acne
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    • Viral TikTok skincare treatment
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    • Highly effective
    • Easy application

    Blog author

    Scott Weaver

    Scott is an experienced and professional content writer who works exclusively for UK Meds.

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