Causes of Acne Breakouts and What to Do About Them

We normally associate acne with teenagers, but it’s actually common for adults to experience acne, too. If you’re experiencing acne, you know it can be extremely frustrating. Although we know acne is caused by congestion in your skin’s pores, there are actually a lot of underlying causes that your board-certified dermatologist can help you explore. Here are just a few common causes of acne and how you can achieve clearer healthier skin.

Cosmetic products

Whether it’s makeup, skincare products, or even hair products, certain ingredients in cosmetics can negatively interact with your skin. Comedogenic products can clog your pores if they aren’t effectively cleansed from the skin every day. If cosmetics are causing your breakouts, consider switching to different products – including makeup removers – and wash your face at the beginning and end of each day. Make sure to also thoroughly wash and rinse your skin before you get out of the shower to keep it free from greasy hair conditioner.


Some people are simply more sensitive to hormone disruptions caused by diet. Try taking stock of your diet and ensure it has a well-balanced variety of healthy foods like vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, healthy fats, and whole grains. Foods that are heavy on salt, dairy, refined sugars, and processed fats can be triggers for acne, so make sure to enjoy them in moderation.


Hormones are the typical cause of acne in teenagers (because they’re going through puberty). However, adults can also experience acne because of hormone fluctuations – especially women. During certain phases of the menstrual cycle, it’s common for women to experience breakouts because of changes in estrogen and progesterone. Pregnant and menopausal women can also experience breakouts for the same reason. If your breakouts are severe or impact your confidence, it can be worth talking with your doctor about birth control or hormone therapy.


When you experience higher levels of stress, your body experiences a rise in androgens or hormones responsible for reproductive health in men and women. When androgen levels become too high, it can result in breakouts. Additionally, a rise in cortisol levels (or, the stress hormone) can also increase oil production in the skin, resulting in congestion. Chronic stress can be bad for your overall health, but it can also take a toll on your dermatological health. Try working with your regular physician or mental health professional to find ways to manage stress.

Lifestyle habits

There are some bad habits that can cause acne as well. These can include smoking or drinking, but also things like poor sleeping habits. Try to cut out drugs, smoking, or alcohol, and instead try to get regular exercise and 7-9 hours of sleep every night. With less stress on your body and an improvement in your overall health, you may see clearer skin emerge over time.

Schedule an Appointment

There are many different factors that can cause acne. If you’re interested in meeting with Dr. Melissa Erwin and learning more about your treatment options, contact our El Campo, TX office by calling 979-543-9933 or contacting us online through our contact form.