Dealing with acne can be a frustrating experience, but it is a common and widespread condition affecting people of all ages. Understanding the causes of acne and effective treatments is crucial for managing these unwelcome blemishes.

Hormonal Fluctuations

Hormonal changes can affect acne in both men and women of all ages, although it is commonly associated with teenagers. Women, in particular, may experience hormonal acne during pregnancy, menopause, or when using hormonal birth control. This type of acne results from changes in the amount of oil the body produces, which can clog pores and lead to whiteheads, blackheads, or cystic acne. Hormonal acne typically appears on the cheeks and jawline but can also occur on the back, chest, or neck.

Individuals at higher risk for hormonal acne include those with a genetic predisposition, pre-existing medical conditions, or fluctuating hormone levels related to menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause. Stress, pollution, diet, and picking at blemishes can exacerbate hormonal acne.

Acne Cosmetica

Acne cosmetica is a milder but persistent form of acne caused by cosmetic products. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the face, neck, hairline, and scalp. This type of acne usually manifests as rough, bumpy skin with little to no inflammation, making it challenging to identify the exact cause.

Cosmetic products known to cause this type of acne include pomades, hair oils, heavy moisturizers, eye creams, and makeup. Ingredients such as isopropyl myristate, lanolin, butyl stearate, stearyl alcohol, and oleic acid are common culprits. Managing acne cosmetica involves identifying and avoiding the products that trigger it and ensuring proper moisturization to prevent overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands.


Diet plays a significant role in overall health and can affect skin condition. While no specific foods are directly linked to acne, certain dietary factors can contribute to breakouts. These include vitamin deficiencies, oily foods, high-sugar or high-carbohydrate foods, and foods that alter hormone levels.

Vitamin A and vitamin D deficiencies are closely related to diet-induced acne. High-sugar and high-carbohydrate foods, such as sodas, bread, and rice, can also trigger acne. Dairy products, often containing added hormones, and oily foods like nuts and fish, are associated with breakouts. Making dietary changes in conjunction with other treatments may help alleviate diet-related acne.


Stress does not directly cause acne but can worsen existing conditions. Stress triggers the production of androgen and cortisol hormones, leading to increased oil production. It also stimulates the production of cytokines, proteins that cause inflammation, which can lead to breakouts when affecting sebaceous glands.

Smoking to relieve stress can further aggravate acne. Managing stress through healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce its impact on acne.

Sleep Disturbances

Inconsistent or poor-quality sleep can lead to the production of cortisol, which increases oil production in the sebaceous glands and clogs pores. Lack of sleep can also cause wrinkles, sagging skin, dark circles, and paler skin, all contributing to an overall unhealthy skin appearance.

Medication Side Effects

Certain medications can induce acne as a side effect. Common medications that cause acne include antidepressants, DHEA, and androgenic steroids. Antidepressants may increase serotonin and dopamine levels, leading to inflammation. Hormonal birth control, due to its impact on hormone levels, can also cause acne, particularly as the body adjusts.


Acne Treatment Options

Kenalog Injections

Kenalog is a powerful steroid injected directly into an acne cyst or nodule, offering quick and lasting relief. These injections can resolve cysts and nodules within 12 hours to a few days, compared to the weeks they might take to resolve naturally.

Microtoxin Injection

These injections reduce sebum production and sweating, lowering the likelihood of future clogged pores and acne.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels treat acne by removing dead skin cells at the epidermis and dermis levels, improving skin texture and reducing mild acne scarring. This process also enhances skin elasticity and provides a youthful glow.


Microneedling stimulates collagen production, which prevents future breakouts and reduces acne scarring. This treatment promotes new skin cell growth, helping to diminish the appearance of scars.

While acne has many potential causes, there are numerous treatment options, including injections, chemical peels, and microneedling. Combining these medical spa treatments with lifestyle changes can help achieve smooth, glowing skin.

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