Acne causes: The surprising reasons why pimples won't go away
It’s luck of the draw whether you will experience acne or not, whether it’s throughout your teen years or later as an adult (or both). Factors you can’t help, such as hormones and genetics, play a pivotal part in the development of acne, but did you know the things you do in your day-to-day life could actually be making things a whole lot worse?
While acne is a medical condition which may require a visit to your doctor, if you’re pimple-prone and had no luck in the quest for a clear face, something else could very well be the culprit.
RELATED: How to treat a blind pimple
You might be surprised to discover the following reasons for acne.
1. Overusing acne spot treatments
At the first sign of a pimple, you probably want to slather on all the spot treatments to stop it in its tracks. It’s understandable – you want to get rid of that pimple fast. But applying over-the-counter acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid at every opportunity can irritate and inflame skin, putting you in a worse-off situation. Overzealous application can also cause the skin to produce more oil and therefore more breakouts.
What you should do instead: Lower concentrations of these acne-fighting ingredients, used every other night, will help combat the issue but won’t make your face overly dry and red. Focus on areas of concern rather than your whole face.
2. Exercising with makeup on
One of the biggest acne myths is that pimples are caused by poor hygiene. However, not removing your makeup before a workout can certainly exacerbate it. All that makeup, oil, dirt, bacteria and sweat that gets trapped in your pores during and after your workout can fuel breakouts.
What you should do instead: Avoid working out with makeup on and make sure you wash your face with a cleanser for acne-prone skin to get rid of build-up after heading to the gym.
3. Feeling stressed out
Like practically everything, your stress hormone cortisol may be to blame. When you’re going through a particularly stressful time, your skin can produce more oil than usual causing you to break out.
What you should do instead: We all get stressed at some point – but too much stress can really take a toll on your mental and physical health. While there’s no magical way for instant zen, try implementing daily self-care habits to help reduce stress.
4. The ingredients in your skin care routine
Unsuspecting nasties may be lurking in your skin care routine – with mineral oil, fragrance, sodium lauryl sulfate and silicones being just a few of the controversial ingredients that could trigger acne or irritate it.
What you should do instead: While avoiding these ingredients alone will not cure your acne, it’s definitely worth a try. Scan the ingredient lists of your skin care (and makeup) products and eliminate anything that is a known acne-aggravator – remember that some ingredients may be labelled under a different name. Also look for anything with noncomedogenic formulas (products that have been formulated not to clog pores).
5. Exfoliating too much
In cases of particularly bad acne, exfoliation should be avoided at all costs. You might think that regular exfoliation will help clear pimples, but scrubbing at them will not do any good – rather a lot more harm.
What you should do instead: If you have cystic acne, you can avoid exfoliation altogether. Otherwise, a mild chemical exfoliator is more suitable for acne-prone skin to gently lift dead skin cells.
6. Your hair products may cause bacne
Those same pore-clogging ingredients in your skin care, like sodium lauryl sulfate and silicones, are in hair care too, from styling products to shampoo. So when you wash your hair, those ingredients will trail down your neck and back – and along your hair line – potentially causing irritation and bacne.
What you should do instead: You may find certain shampoos will irritate your skin, particularly ones containing intensely moisturising ingredients, so the best course of action is to find a product that doesn’t trigger it. Easier said than done, but it’s all about trial and error in this case. Find out how you can treat back acne for good.
7. The bacteria on your hands and phone
If you have a habit of touching your face – even resting your hand on your chin – it might be time to quit it. Worse, if you pop and pick at your pimples incessantly, this can cause bacteria to spread and also lead to scarring.
Your phone is also a breeding ground for bacteria – too much time spent talking on the phone with a dirty screen, for example, can spread bacteria to your face and cause more oil to be produced. This lesser known culprit might be the cause of acne and pimples on your cheeks.
What you should do instead: Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and keep your phone out of the bathroom, for starters. You can also disinfect your phone with a specialised cleaner. Of course, it’s also essential to give your skin a deep cleanse each night to remove makeup and bacteria.
While one or more of the above reasons could be exacerbating your acne, when it comes down to it there’s only so much you can do. Those with mild acne may find success with over-the-counter treatments and avoiding triggers, but for more serious cases have a chat to your doctor about the prescription treatments available.
Do you do any of these things and what are your top tips for preventing breakouts?