When your hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, the result is acne. Whiteheads, blackheads and pimples are all examples of acne, and are most commonly seen on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders. It’s most common in adolescents (and can start as young as 7), but affects a large number of adults as well. Acne may persist into adulthood, may start suddenly or become worse. Certain medical conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) may be associated with more severe acne. Nearly all of us have acne at some time or another.

Acne may start as inflamed bumps (papule) and may progress into cysts, nodules (large lumps) and pustules (white painful spots). Secondary lesions include scratched acne, red marks on skin from new spots, dark marks from old spots and multiple scars.

Acne is very frustrating—as soon as one bump starts to heal, two more show up. It’s persistent but not permanent, and there are solutions for you.


Most acne is caused by occlusion of hair follicles with oil and dead skin cells. Bacteria worsens it, as does excess activity from one type of hormones called androgens. These androgens are present around puberty and during pregnancy, and they accompany the use of contraception.

Certain medications that contain corticosteroids, testosterone or lithium may result in acne or the worsening of acne. High environmental humidity, smoking and thick makeup may result in occlusion of hair follicles. Your diet can also affect your acne, especially if you’re consuming large amounts of dairy (especially skim milk) and high carbohydrate foods like bread and chips.

One of the most common causes of acne is stress. Just like stress affects everything from your sleep patterns to your weight to your menstrual cycle, your skin reacts to stress with acne.

Myths About Acne

Greasy food doesn’t make your acne worse. On the other hand, being around greasy food, like working with deep fryers, can. The oil in the air can stick to your skin and clog up your pores.

Having acne does not mean that you have poor hygiene. On the contrary, scrubbing and scrubbing your delicate skin with strong soaps and harsh chemicals can irritate your acne and make it much worse. Squeezing, picking, scratching or rubbing inflamed spots may aggravate acne, and may result in a severe infection.

Makeup may play a significant role in your acne. Some makeup is non-comedogenic and oil-free, which shouldn’t clog your pores. Some of the most popular brands, however, may exacerbate your acne. Make sure that your makeup is mineral based, light weight and oil free. If you read the label on your makeup and realize it doesn’t have those features, try switching products and see how your skin reacts.


If at-home remedies like over-the-counter acne cleansers and lotions aren’t working for you, and your acne simply won’t let up, you should consult a dermatologist. There are multiple medications as well as other treatment modalities that may effectively treat your acne.

For many women, acne can persist for a long time in coordination with pregnancy, menstruation or the use of oral contraception. Your dermatologist will know the difference between these causes!

Additionally, a sudden onset of severe acne in adults may signal an underlying disease, so see your dermatologist if this may apply to you.

For expert advice and professional skincare, contact Cahaba Dermatology today!