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What Causes Skin to Break Out on Your Face With Acne?

By Rose Erickson ; Updated July 18, 2017

Acne can take many forms, including blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules and cysts, according to MedlinePlus, a medical information resource established by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Although it is most common in teenagers, it can occur at any age. Acne is not typically a serious medical condition, but chronic acne can lead to skin damage and scarring. To prevent and treat facial acne, it is important to understand why it occurs in the first place.

Oil and Irritation

Friction and contact with oily objects can cause skin to break out. The Mayo Clinic explains that hats, helmets and tight clothing can all irritate the skin and encourage new acne growths. In addition, resting your face on your hands or holding items such as a phone against your skin can block your pores with oil and dirt. Oil-based cosmetics and makeup, especially if slept in, can also clog pores and irritate the skin. Oily hair that is allowed to touch the face and some hair care products, particularly those that are oil-based or greasy, can also cause acne to occur.

Bacteria

According to the KidsHealth website, pore walls can sometimes break, allowing normal skin bacteria, such as P. acnes, to get beneath the surface of the skin. As a result, acne, in the form of an infected pimple, can develop. If the pore wall breaks deep beneath the skin’s surface, a larger acne infection, called a cyst can occur.

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Hormone Fluctuations

The Mayo Clinic explains that fluctuations in hormones can provoke and create new acne. Hormonal changes can cause the oil glands to produce excess sebum or oil. When this excess oil cannot reach the surface of the skin, it forms a soft plug, resulting in acne. Hormonal fluctuations often occur when children enter puberty, in women several days prior to a period, during pregnancy and when taking certain medications such as cortisone.

Sweat

According to MedlinePlus, humid weather and sweating can contribute to acne breakouts. Oil, dirt and sweat can become trapped in the skin if not washed away after exposure to hot weather or a strenuous workout.

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