One of the most volatile triggers and/or perpetuators of acne is none other than everyone’s familiar friend stress. Stress causes the body to release the stress hormone cortisol as well as the steroid hormone androgen from your adrenal glands, increasing oil production and therefore allowing acne to either surface or persist. This process leads to stress related breakouts, or stress related persistence of a breakout. Some researchers believe adult acne is on the rise because of the constant stress in our society. And as you well know, having acne adds to your emotional stress, perpetuating the vicious acne cycle. We recommend lowering stress levels with plenty of sleep, exercise and calming activities like meditation and mindful breathing.
While we diet is not the primary cause of acne, there is more and more evidence linking certain foods to acne, therefore in some people it may play a major contributing role. Carbohydrates found in sugary, starchy, or processed foods have what is known as a high glycemic index. These types of foods spike your blood sugar levels and eventually cause your skin to respond by releasing oil into the pores, which in turn results in breakouts. Hormones and antibiotics in dairy and meats may also contribute to acne in some people. Looking for “organic” or “hormone-free” foods may make a difference in your skin. High iodine levels in people consuming lots of seafood, seaweed, or iodized salt has also been reported to trigger breakouts. Further, there are many over-the-counter and prescription medications that may have side effects that can alter your body’s chemistry and hormones, leading to an acne outbreak. Acne begins to form in the pores for weeks before a breakout becomes visible, so it may be hard to pinpoint and eliminate diet-related causes of acne.
Hormones play a huge role in acne. During puberty, everyone – boys and girls – starts to produce masculinizing hormones called androgens. In women, the hormones include testosterone, DHEA-sulfate and progesterone. In men, the hormones are testosterone, dihydroxytestosterone and androstenedione. Androgen hormones cause oil-producing glands to enlarge, stimulating oil production. When there’s more oil and less shedding of dead skin cells, pores become clogged, and there you have it – acne. That’s why 80 to 85 percent of teens get acne. Hormonal imbalances caused by certain medications, pregnancy, and midlife internal biological changes may also lead acne breakouts.
Clogged pores are a commonly known cause of acne and breakouts. Pores, those small dots on the face that seem harmless but are far from, have special glands in them that secrete natural oils known as the sebaceous glands. These are tasked with lubricating hair and skin to avoid dryness and keep them healthy, but sometimes when they work too hard and release too much oil (sebum), after which you end up breaking out instead. This could happen due to hormonal changes, maturing and development of the body, and more. Once pores get clogged with this oil, as well as dead skin cells or bacteria, bumps will begin to form and skin will appear broken out.