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Acne: Causes, Effective Treatments, and Prevention Tips

Discover the causes of acne, explore effective treatments for various types of acne, and learn essential prevention tips to achieve clear and healthy skin.

Acne is a common skin disorder affecting millions globally, leading to mental and physical distress.

Here we’ll look at the leading causes of acne, providing valuable insights to help you better understand this persistent issue.

To help you manage your acne, we’ll examine a range of treatments, from topical medications to lifestyle modifications. Additionally, we’ll discuss prevention tips for those who are prone to breakouts or have stubborn acne that seems resistant to treatment.

Armed with this knowledge, you can take control of your skin’s health and work towards achieving clear and radiant skin.

Table of Contents:

Causes of Acne

Acne is a distressing skin condition that can affect people of any age. It occurs when pores in the skin become blocked and harbour oil and bacteria.

The most common causes are hormones, bacteria, and genetics.

  • Hormones have a considerable influence on the emergence of acne. An increase in certain hormones called androgens can cause an overproduction of sebum (oil) from the sebaceous glands beneath your skin’s surface, and this excess oil can clog pores leading to breakouts. Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause may also trigger acne outbreaks.
  • When excess sebum or dead cells become trapped in a pore, Propionibacterium acnes (P Acnes) bacteria can lead to inflammation and the resulting redness and swelling of the affected area. Additionally, this may cause pus-filled lesions known colloquially as pimples or cysts, to form beneath the surface of the skin; if left untreated for extended periods, these can become quite painful.
  • Genetics may play a part in causing breakouts, although scientific research studies have not yet definitively proven this. Some people may inherit genes that make them more prone to developing severe forms of acne, such as nodular or cystic acne, than others who may only experience occasional milder cases at different times throughout their life.

Lifestyle factors such as stress, nutrition, smoking and lack of sleep may exacerbate symptoms.

Sufferers need to take steps towards reducing these triggers where possible.

Acne can be a complex issue with multiple possible causes, so it’s vital to identify what might be causing your breakouts. You can start managing your acne and achieve clearer skin with the proper knowledge and treatment plan. Next, we’ll discuss acne treatments that may help reduce symptoms and improve overall complexion.

Summary: Acne, a frequent skin issue, can arise from endocrine imbalances, bacteria, and heredity. Additionally, environmental factors such as stress and poor diet can exacerbate existing symptoms; therefore, it’s essential to reduce these triggers where possible to keep breakouts under control.

Treatments for Acne

Finding and sticking with successful treatment is the best way to go when it comes to managing acne.

Topical Treatments:

Topical medications are often the first line of defence against acne breakouts. These include creams, lotions, gels, or ointments containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids (vitamin A derivatives).

Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria, and salicylic acid helps clear pores by sloughing off dead skin cells. Retinoids can help reduce inflammation and promote cell re-creation.

Oral antibiotics, such as tetracycline or doxycycline, may be prescribed by your doctor to address moderate to severe acne breakouts. They work by reducing inflammation and killing bacteria on the skin’s surface. Isotretinoin, such as Accutane, may be prescribed in cases where topical treatments have not been successful and can help reduce oil production to prevent new pimples from forming.

Light Therapy:

Light therapy involves using either blue light or red light wavelengths to kill bacteria on the surface of your skin without causing damage to healthy tissue around it, as some topical treatments might do. Blue light kills off Propionibacterium acnes (P-acnes), responsible for most acne breakouts, while red light reduces inflammation. This treatment option has become increasingly popular due to its effectiveness in treating milder acne without serious side effects.

Hormonal Therapies:

Hormonal therapies may be recommended if your doctor suspects an underlying hormonal imbalance could contribute to your acne outbreaks.

These therapies involve taking hormones orally or topically to balance levels within your body and reduce related symptoms.

Natural Alternatives:

Although limited evidence supports the use of alternative treatments in treating acne, some have been suggested as potential remedies. Examples include tea tree oil and dietary changes involving increasing intake levels of zinc-rich foods such as oysters and pumpkin seeds, among others too numerous to mention. Nevertheless, due to the extensive exploration of these treatments in recent times, they are still worth noting.

Acne treatment may involve a mix of topical and oral medications; the most effective plan often combines both. To help avoid acne, let’s consider some preventive measures.

Summary: Acne treatment may involve a combination of topical treatments and oral medications. Light therapy is also becoming increasingly popular due to its effectiveness in treating pimples without any severe side effects. Additionally, hormonal therapies may help if underlying imbalances are suspected to be contributing factors.

Prevention Tips for Acne

Preventing acne is possible with the right lifestyle changes and skincare routine. Here are some tips to help you keep your skin clear and healthy:

Cleansing your skin can help minimize breakouts by removing debris, oil, and other contaminants from pores. Twice a day, use a mild cleanser to remove oils. Avoid scrubbing too hard or using harsh soaps that can irritate your skin. Slough away dead skin cells with an exfoliator to keep your pores clear and prevent blemishes from forming. Opt for an exfoliant containing lactic acid or glycolic acid about twice a week.

Use Non-Comedogenic Products:

Many facial products contain ingredients that can clog pores, leading to breakouts. Look for non-comedogenic products labelled “oil-free” or “non-acnegenic” when shopping for makeup, moisturizers, sunscreens, and other skincare items; these formulas are explicitly designed not to block pores while still providing adequate coverage.

Keep Stress Levels Low:

Stress hormones linked to increased sebum production (the oily substance secreted by our glands) can lead to breakouts over time if left unchecked. Try relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation to manage stress levels naturally; avoid caffeine and processed sugars whenever possible.

Protect your skin from the sun:

UV rays from the sun increase inflammation in our bodies, which may trigger acne flare-ups on sensitive areas of our faces, such as around our nose or chin area, where we tend to get more redness due to increased blood flow in those areas. Wear sunscreen daily with an SPF rating of 30+, even on cloudy days; this will protect against both UVA and UVB rays while keeping wrinkles at bay.

Summary: Proactively protect your skin from acne breakouts with a consistent skincare routine; cleanse regularly, exfoliate gently, use non-comedogenic products and keep stress levels low. Additionally, shield yourself from the sun’s rays by wearing sunscreen daily to combat inflammation that may trigger flare-ups.


Acne is a prevalent skin disorder manageable through suitable therapies and precautionary steps. Maintaining skin cleanliness, employing skincare products tailored to acne-prone complexions, and consulting a dermatologist when needed are all essential for successfully managing breakouts. With these strategies in place, you should be able to control your breakouts and maintain clear skin over time.

Let Harley Street Healthcare Dermatology Clinic help you find the right solution for your acne. Our experienced dermatologists are here to provide expert answers to your dermatological needs. Treat your acne at our Harley Street Clinic – Dermatologist Consultation £169

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