Let’s face it, acne sucks. It can have a profound affect on your life, including your self confidence. Just know that you are not alone, and that many of us suffer from acne on a daily basis. You may have tried several products and heard of countless more, but do you know why you have acne?! Sometimes the best way to treat something is to get to the bottom of what is causing it in the first place. Knowledge is power. So read on to find out the main enemies behind acne, then start taking steps to tackle them.

1. Hormones

When we hear the word hormones, we typically think of 2 things – puberty and pregnancy. While these are major times of hormonal changes, you also experience hormone fluctuation throughout adulthood. This is why almost 50 million Americans suffer from acne. You start releasing androgen hormones in puberty and this triggers what we commonly know as ‘teenage acne’. From there your acne can come to a halt or continue to be an issue into adulthood. Pregnancy and birth control in particular have a tremendous affect on hormones. The reason that hormones can give you acne, is that they cause sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum (more on this next).

IMG_17532. Excess Sebum 

Your hair follicles are connected to oil glands that release sebum in order to lubricate hair and skin. When you produce excess sebum, it builds up in the follicles and creates an environment where bacteria thrive. Once the pores become infected with bacteria, it results in inflammation. Acne usually appears on the face, neck, back and chest due to these areas having the most oil glands.

3. Genetics

If you have a family history of acne, there is a higher chance you may develop acne as well, especially during your teen years. Besides hormones, this is one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not you will get acne.

4. Medications

Whether taken internally or applied topically, certain medications can be a culprit for acne. Drugs containing steroids or lithium, as well as oral contraceptives, are some of the most common acne triggers. If you’ve heard that birth control can help your acne, then you’ve heard right, but keep in mind that it can take time for your body to adjust to the new hormone levels and in that time frame you may suffer from acne. The best thing you can do is check to see if acne is listed in the adverse effects, and adjust your medication appropriately (with the advise of your doctor of course).

5. Stress, Diet, and Products

Aside from genetics and excess oil, there are certain habits you may have that are making your acne worse.

Stress can wreak havoc on your skin by causing it to release stress hormones that activate oil production and clog your pores. In order to avoid stress induced acne, try to implement small changes into your daily life that help you release stress and relax – meditation, light workouts, or simply time for yourself each day can all benefit you.

Your diet may also be contributing to some of your breakouts, and we aren’t talking about eating too much chocolate. Your skin could be reacting negatively to what you eat – spice, bread, dairy, and sugar are among some of the common foods that a person could be affected by. Since our bodies all behave differently, it’ll be up to you to find out what you are reacting to, and change your eating habits accordingly.

Lastly, your skin care products may be aggravating your skin, leading to more frequent breakouts. It’s important to use the right products for your skin type – if you are unsure, talk to a dermatologist to find out. Once you get to know your skin, you can find a routine that fits it. It may take some trial and error with different products, but when you find the combination that works for your skin, make sure you stick to it in order to keep seeing positive results!

Remember that acne is treatable and by using these main factors as a starting point, you can target the cause of your acne and be on your way to fresh, beautiful skin!

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