5 Surprising Acne Causes and Solutions

Trying to work out your acne causes can be incredibly frustrating. Not sure why you’re still fighting adult acne? You’re not alone. 

We know how frustrating acne can be for you. It can impact your self-confidence and even affect how you go about your daily life. Some acne-sufferers feel uncomfortable meeting new people or socialising because of how their acne makes them feel.

But you don’t have to suffer. Understanding what exactly has caused your acne problem can give you better insight into your skin. And once you know the cause, you can move on to the solutions.

Here are some surprising acne causes and solutions to help you take your first step into acne recovery.

Acne Causes…

Many teenagers suffer from acne, but as an adult, you hope to be free of those intense breakouts. Unfortunately, puberty isn’t the only cause of acne. 

1 – Hormones

Menstrual Cycle – Your period can cause a change in hormones, as your estrogen and progesterone levels rise and then drop, along with testosterone. These quick and drastic shifts in hormones can make your skin produce higher amounts of sebum, an oily deposit that can cause pore blockages.

Birth Control – The type of hormonal birth control you use can cause acne problems. If you use birth control that contains only progesterone, you increase the likelihood of excess sebum and clogged pores.

Menopause – Similarly to your menstrual cycle, menopause can trigger a significant drop in estrogen, as well as an increase in testosterone. Together, these changes can cause sebum overproduction which can contribute to inflamed and blocked pores.

Imbalances – Some disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome have been proven to cause hormone imbalances. This change in hormone levels triggers the creation of more sebum than your skin can handle, causing clogged pores.

Birth control

2 – Diet

Intolerances – Some food sensitivities have been connected with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne. In particular, people with celiac disease are more likely to struggle with acne problems. This is thought to be because of the way your body processes food, however, gluten itself has not been a proven cause of acne.

Sugar – A recent study showed that people who consume refined sugars are 30% more likely to have acne breakouts. This is because of the way your body breaks down the carbohydrates and creates insulin as a result. Frequent changes in these levels of insulin can be one of the big acne causes.

Dairy – Studies have proven that dairy aggravates acne in some people. It’s thought that a hormone given to the cows used for dairy milk production is the reason. Once this hormone enters your system, your body can mistake it for insulin, which can lead to inflammation and breakouts.

Processed Foods – While greasy foods are not proven acne causes, processed foods are shown to contribute to digestive issues that can lead to changes in your skin’s oil production. 

3 – Nutritional Deficiencies

Zinc – Studies show that low serum zinc levels in the blood can be related to acne. Zinc contains natural healing properties, so a deficiency of this could be one of your instrumental acne causes. 

Vitamin A – People with vitamin A deficiency often have problems with flaking, scaling, and dry skin. These skin issues can lead to painful acne breakouts.

Essential Fatty Acids – A lack of essential fatty acids in your diet can be causing imbalances in your skin. Consuming essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 can reduce the occurrence of acne. The same correlation was found for antioxidants.

4 – Bacteria & Inflammation 

Natural Oils – at the root of most acne is the issue of your skin producing too much – or sometimes too little –  sebum oil. Normally this natural oil provides lubrication for hair and skin, but too much sebum, along with dead skin cells, is a direct cause of acne.

Bacteria Build Up – If you get a build-up of bacteria on your skin, this can block your pores. Natural, ‘good’ bacteria is always present on the skin, but exposure to bad bacteria for too long can lead to visible inflammation.  

5 – Blocked Pores 

Dirt, Grime, Grease – your skin cleansing routine really does matter. Dirt and other grime from your day can severely block pores.

Dead Skin Cells – this is one of the biggest acne causes as it’s the most difficult to prevent. Our skin sheds cells naturally and frequently, so a good skincare routine is essential.

Dry Skin – As many people have a secondary skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, dry skin is a common cause of acne as your body’s natural oils can’t keep your skin moisturised.

Solutions …

Now you know the surprising acne causes that could be making you break out, it’s time to talk solutions. What can you do to tackle these acne causes? 

Balance YOUR Hormones

If hormonal imbalance seems to be the cause of your acne, then it’s important to work toward balancing out your hormonal levels. You can do this by talking to your GP to discover where your imbalance comes from, whether menstrual or an underlying cause. Reducing your overall stress levels can also promote a healthy balance of hormones. 

Improve YOUR Diet 

You could really benefit from taking time to examine how your diet might be affecting your skin. Spend a short time excluding foods you may be sensitive to, for example by eliminating dairy, to see if that makes a difference to your breakouts. Eating a high quality diet with plenty of fresh food and less processed foods is a great place to start, as well as considering supplements to prevent vitamin deficiencies.

Skin Care Routine

Acne focused products – Search for products that are specifically formulated to nurture and cleanse acne-prone skin. This includes ingredients such as salicylic acid and tea tree to soothe and treat your skin, whatever the acne causes you’re dealing with.

Here at Dr Sobia Medispa, we recommend professional skincare products by Dr Obaji and ZO to help tackle acne. We have a range of products available to purchase in the clinic, and we’ll be happy to recommend the right skincare products for your needs.


Chemical Peels

One effective option for acne treatment is a chemical peel. Skin peels can help if you have acne scars, or want to rejuvenate your skin without taking a more drastic or invasive route. Medical grade chemical peels use approved and tested acids to remove the damaged layers of skin and strip away bacteria. Revitalising your skin and combating the signs of acne, whether it’s your first appearance of acne or you want to get rid of old acne scarring. 

Click here to learn more about chemical peels…


When it comes to acne treatments, the Hydrafacial can cleanse away deep dirt, grime and germs and give your skin instant hydration. By eliminating the oils, dead skin cells and bacteria that can lead to acne and introducing deep moisture to dry, dehydrated skin, you can help to prevent future breakouts.

These treatments can be a godsend for dry, sore and blocked skin on your face. With noticeable brightness immediately after your first treatment, a Hydrafacial can help you get clearer skin.

Click here to learn more about Hydrafacial…

Laser For Acne

For acne scarring, laser can offer some incredible results. Here at Dr Sobia Medispa, we use a Cynosure laser to deliver advanced laser treatment that targets and breaks down the scar tissue that makes up your scars. The treatment causes them to disappear through your body’s natural healing process over time, revealing smoother, more blemish-free skin.

Get in touch to find out more about Cynosure laser for acne scarring…

Whatever the cause of your acne, whether it’s related to a hormone imbalance, food intolerances or a build-up of oil, there is a solution for you. By resetting your skin with treatments like Hydrafacial or chemical peel or addressing your diet, you can take an immediate step toward acne-free skin. 

Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you get the clear and smooth skin you want.

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