What are the Causes of Acne?

There are many theories about the cause of acne, and most scientists agree that there is no single cause of acne. Some people believe that diet has an effect on acne, while others think that hormones play a large role. Here are some of the theories about what causes acne.


Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine have found that certain genes are commonly expressed in patients who suffer from acne lesions, but no particular genes have been named as causing acne. Researchers believe that common inherited traits such as skin thickness and pore size play a role in the prevalence of acne. More research is needed before scientists can predict who will develop acne by studying their genetics.





Hormones that are known as androgens are primarily responsible for stimulating the skin’s oil producing glands to secrete more oil. This oil combines with dead skin and bacteria to cause acne lesions.

Acne lesions often begin during adolescence and puberty, when hormones are at their highest levels. Acne is also common during pregnancy and at certain points during the menstrual cycle when levels of estrogen are lower. Estrogen helps the body reduce oil production in the skin, so lower estrogen levels cause a higher level of oil production.




Stress affects the entire body in many ways, including stimulating the production of oil from the sebaceous glands. The body’s adrenal gland produces additional hormones when the body and brain are stressed. Higher levels of androgens in the body increase the prevalence of acne, especially in women, because more of the body’s androgens are produced in the adrenal glands of women than men.

Stress also causes the immune system to be depressed, so the body isn’t as adept at fighting off the bacteria that causes acne. The walls of the pores can break when they are subjected to the inflammation caused by stress.


Neil Mann, an associate professor from RMIT University’s School of Applied Sciences, spearheaded a research project that studied the effects of eating whole grains on the development of acne. The team’s research found that people who ate healthier diets that were full of whole grains and didn’t contain processed foods were much less likely to develop acne lesions on their skin than people who ate a typical diet of processed foods.

No individual foods were named in the study, but eating a diet that is full of processed foods that are high in sugar and fat may lead to acne and worsen current cases of acne. There are some foods that have been shown to help treat mild acne, including yogurt, green tea, and lemon juice.

Some researchers believe that acne can be an allergic reaction to certain foods. Food allergies can affect the body in many different ways, and skin lesions may be caused by a mild allergic reaction. People who suspect a food allergy should pay close attention to their skin after eating suspected foods and talk to their doctor to be tested for food allergies.


Vitamins play a very important role in many body functions. Research shows that there is an increase in acne development in the skin of people who are deficient in vitamin A and other important nutrients. Accutane, a popular treatment for severe acne, was created from a derivative of vitamin A. Other vitamins that are suspected to affect acne production include;

*Vitamin A– Vitamin A strengthens the protective tissue of the skin and helps the skin repair itself. It is also an antioxidant that plays a vital role in getting rid of toxins.

*B Vitamins– B-complex vitamins are known to play a role in stress reduction, which indirectly affects acne development. They also enhance skin tone and are vital for the overall health of the body. Caution should be used while taking B vitamins because high amounts of these vitamins can cause skin problems. Anyone who takes large amounts of these vitamins should talk to their doctor so that they don’t accidentally overdose.

*Vitamin C– Vitamin C is vital for many necessary functions body functions. It plays a role in tissue repair and growth. Protecting against infection and enhancing the immune system is an important function of vitamin C. It may also be combined with bioflavenoids for an antibacterial acne fighting effect.

Determining Acne Causes

So many different things are suspected to cause acne that doctors and scientists often disagree as to which causes are more likely than others. Diet, stress, hormones, genetics, and vitamin deficiencies all play a role and the exact cause of acne is different for every case.

Oil production and bacteria are the main contributors to acne. No matter what causes excessive oil production, most researchers agree that slowing the production and unclogging pores are vital in the reduction of acne lesions.