Facebook Pixel

Acne Causes & Risks


Acne starts in the skin's sebaceous glands. These glands secrete an oily substance called sebum. The sebum normally travels through a tiny hair follicle from the gland to the skin's surface. Sometimes the sebum becomes trapped, mixing with dead skin cells and bacteria. This causes a clogged pore called a comedo (plural: comedones).


© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Blackheads are comedones that reach the skin's surface. Whiteheads are comedones that stay beneath the surface of the skin. Small red bumps, pimples, and cysts may also develop.

The main causes of acne include:

  • Changes in levels of male hormones called androgens
  • Increased sebum production
  • Changes inside the hair follicle
  • Bacteria

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition.

  • Age: between 12-24 years old
  • Race: Caucasian
  • Changes in hormone levels, such as during:
    • Puberty
    • Pregnancy
    • Before a menstrual period
  • Stress
  • Certain medications (such as androgens, lithium , and barbiturates)

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2016 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

The Latest in Acne Causes & Risks

Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Acne Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!