Acne is something all of us have to deal with in our lives at some point. The American Academy of Dermatology explained that the condition is caused by a chronic inflammatory of the skin. "This is often characterized by pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. They may surface on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and the arms." Acne usually begins in puberty and affects many adolescents and young adults, but it can occur at any stage of life.

Approximately 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne. Some causes of acne could be the abnormal growth of cells within the hair follicles. When a hair follicle gets to the point of breach, the oil that is enclosed seeps into the surrounding skin and then this spreads into other areas. Acne is a booming business and people spend an estimated 3 billion a year of various treatments. Here are 6 causes of acne that are quite surprising.


Acne could be genetic, especially if both parents suffered from significant acne, the probability is you will as well. Researchers believe that 81 percent of your acne problem is genetic, while only 19 percent believe that external factors like food and lifestyle cause breakouts. Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine found "certain genes are commonly expressed in patients who suffer from acne wounds, but no particular genes have been named as causing acne." Researchers believe that commonly procured traits such as skin thickness and pore size play a role in the predominance of acne. "More research is needed before scientists can predict who will develop acne by studying their genetics."


Overall there are an estimated 8.3 million American adults who suffer from stress. When it comes to acne, researchers are still baffled if stress causes acne. They don't know exactly how stress worsens acne. "They do know that cells that produce sebum have receptors for stress hormones. Sebum is the oily substance that mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria to clog the hair follicles, leading to a pimple or acne cyst," WebMD reported. When a person with acne experiences a lot of stress "somehow, they’re upregulated," Lisa A. Garner, MD, FAAD explained to the site. "This means that more oil is produced to clog the hair follicles to allow more acne to form."

Peanut Butter

Sorry peanut butter lovers, but your favorite spread could be causing acne. Peanut butter has its benefits, like the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. But here is the bad news. The oils in peanuts and your peanut butter are very tough for the body to break down, celebrity nutritionist Nilli Grutman told newbeauty.com. "The liver is one way to release toxins, and if the liver becomes overloaded, it slows down and its ability to eliminate waste is hindered." She added that if the toxins can’t get out through the liver, they get ejected through the skin and this leads to acne.

Your Cell Phone

Germs and bacteria live on many surface areas. They thrive on the refrigerator door, table and counter tops and live on your cell phone. Cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats, Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona told livescience.com. Cell phones are dingy and all those germs are transferred to your face. "I see people talk on their phone on toilets." With this, breakouts start around your chin, cheeks, forehead and mouth. To prevent this, make it a habit and wipe down your cell phone with alcohol. Other things that you want to wipe down to prevent acne are commonly handled objects like remote controls, keyboards and your steering wheel.

Scrubbing Your Face

A common mistake people make when they initially see acne is to scrub their face. "Their skin gets worse because excess exfoliation causes inflammation and swelling of clogged pores," Dr. Jessica Wu said in a conversation with glamour.com. There is also a misuse of the cleaning brush, which makes it worse. Limit your exfoliation to only twice a week. Wash your face with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser.

Not Washing Makeup Brushes

When was the last time that you washed your makeup brushes? The bristles collect dirt and bacteria after use and if you never wash them, you are clogging your pores with dirt, grime and oils. You also risk getting a staph infection. The lack of cleaning your brushes also ruins makeup application. "One of the biggest reasons to use makeup brushes in the first place is so your makeup goes on more smoothly than if you simply use your fingers," goodhousekeeping.com reported. After using the brushes wipe them down with makeup remover and immerse them in soap and warm water.

Skipping Your Shampooing

If you have oily hair, keep it clean and keep your hair away from your face. When you have oily hair it gets on your face and can cause breakouts. "A natural oil called sebum, produced by glands in the skin, blends with old skin cells and blocks pores," CNN Health explained. Another thing to consider are the products that you are using on your hair like gels and hairsprays as they could also cause acne.

Acne may happen for many reasons. The culprit can be from genetics, stress, foods, not washing our makeup brushes or hair. If over the counter products and tweaks in your lifestyle is not helping, contact a dermatologist to help find what alternatives are right for you.

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