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Major Causes of Acne in Adults + How to Treat Them

Most of us, at some point, have had to face a zit on a day when it shouldn’t be there. Most of us also experienced outbreaks throughout our teenage years, and some of us even have them to early adulthood. There are whole online communities dedicated to facing this problem which can guide you through the illness. Be it genetic or caused by something from our environment, it is a very real problem for most people. What is it, then, that causes these outbreaks? Have you ever wondered whether or not you could be contributing to the problem without even knowing it? To solve this concern, you need to understand more about the major causes of acne in adults and how you can treat them to clear up your skin.

Acne is caused when our hair follicles block the oil pores on our skin. Oil pores keep the skin moisturized by producing the oils essential for our thin epidermis as it is the only layer that faces the harsh outside world for us, and is therefore vulnerable to a number of things. When these oil pores are blocked, their functions do not seize. They merely continue to produce oil only to be blocked by the aforementioned hair follicles. The oils then fill up into the blocked pores. Bacteria within these pools are what cause acne as we know it.

Some of the major causes of acne in adults include:


The largest amount of nutrients that you intake is through food. It is only natural that your diet contributes to functions throughout your body. Like any other organ, the skin has its likes and dislikes. There are some foods that may be causing your skin irritation or that might be causing acne and other skin problems. Spicy foods are more often than not the major contributors as the skin absorbs the acids from the foods and the pH levels go off balance. For some other people, gluten and dairy products might be causing the same effects. It depends on the skin type, but the cause is very easy to find. One must carefully watch one’s diet and try to avoid things that might be contributing to one’s acne outbursts. Your diet is one of the most common causes of acne in adults.

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Smoking is another major contributor to skin problems. The smoke contains a lot of carcinogens and not all of them go to your lungs. The smoke alone can cause the skin on your face to dry up, causing wrinkles and blocked pores. The carcinogens further increase the chances of cancer and cause problems for your skin. Smoking also decreases the amount of oxygen going to your face, causing the cells to die out and the skin to dry up in return. Avoiding smoking can reduce a lot of your problems, acne being the least of them.

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Also read: How to Get Glowing Skin Naturally – My Skincare routine + Tips


Exfoliation is a process by which dead skin is easily removed from the top layer of the skin. Most people with acne think that exfoliating more than normal will somehow rid them of their condition, which in theory seems to work, but it is not the same in practice. Scrubbing more or exfoliating more does not help your skin recover faster. When you scrub your skin furiously, the bacteria causing acne are spread all over your face making it worse for you to get rid of acne. It is therefore recommended that you use a gentler motion when scrubbing the skin to reduce outbursts.

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Another thing that could be causing your acne outbursts (as well as numerous other problems) is stress. Pent-up stress can cause an excess in stress hormones which can result in acne outbursts. The skin is a delicate organ despite its versatility, and if you work it too hard, it will give in like any other organ. Stress can cause acne and acne, in turn can cause stress. Working out regularly or meditating or even jogging every evening can cause a drastic reduction in one’s stress levels. Here are a few more ways to control your stress. This will also improve many other aspects of your life, not simply your skin.

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If you look closely, all of the causes of acne in adults listed above are the indications of a somewhat unhealthy lifestyle in general, meaning skincare is not separate from the rest of your body and as the rest of your body starts having problems, so does your skin. If you decide to follow even half of the tips given above, you will see a drastic improvement in the quality of life and your general health.

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This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. kanika

    stress is the main key to all the problems… this post is rich in content… thanks for sharing.. <3

  2. Soumita

    Thanks for this detailed post . For me itz food n stress .

  3. Sangeetha

    For me it was food and stress, now a little change in the food and working out helped quite alot

  4. Adrian

    Wow knew some of it some i didn’t tho!

  5. Sundeep

    Very informative for those who are suffering from acne. Thanks for sharing this article. Looking forward for more.

  6. Khushia

    I have suffered from acne in the past and I have to say you’re post is bang on!

  7. Archana

    Nice and informative post. I get acne quite often as I stress a lot…

  8. Ana

    I have anxiety and also have very lengthy periods which means that I have spots quite a lot, especially as I have oily skin. I definitely need to do more to improve my diet though! x

  9. Mei

    I really enjoyed reading your post, such a detailed and informative article would help many of us understand the whys and hows of adult acne and know how to get rid of it or at least prevent it.

  10. jhilmil

    I recently got lot of acne on my skin an I think I will have to attribute to sudden stress from past one month. Have noted your tips for all the causes and shall try to go better with each!

  11. Sandra Lopes

    Stress is a major factor to acne. I find that when I am under stress I will most definitely have a pimple pop out the next day! My water intake is of 2l per day, I eat a healthy balanced diet complemented with exercise. So in my case it is the stress. Enjoyed reading this informative post and I agree with you on the causes of acne.

  12. Chaktty

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Creams sometimes do a lot of damage to our skin only to have obvious effects when we grow older.

  13. Acne is surely main problem these days. loved the detailed post.. Stress is main reason for me to get acne..

  14. Poorna

    I agree about the stress, I do indeed get pimply when I am too stressed out.

  15. Brandi

    This is a great list! I’ve noticed skin issues as I’ve gotten order. This list helps, thanks for sharing!

  16. zahra

    Diet and cosmetics are pretty common reasons. Thanks for this helpful post

  17. Syntich

    This post is good and informative, u usually get spots when I am stress or consumed too much oil. But I like to exfoliate regularly so that helps clear them.

  18. Elizabeth O

    The only time I had a break out of adult acne was when I was going through an incredibly stressful phase. Thankfully, it cleared up and left no marks.

  19. Claire

    This is so true, for me, food and stress definitely sometimes gives me a breakout on my skin. I think daily workouts make your skin cleaner and make you look younger too!

  20. Ali Rost

    Our skin is one of the best indicators of how well our insides are functioning. I’m so glad you touched on the food aspect because it’s very common for people with a food sensitivity to manifest itself as acne. Clearing it up could be as simple as removing that food from their diet. x

  21. Hung Tran

    I think the major source of my acne comes from the food I eat. I have been dying to get a full allergy test.

  22. David Elliott

    Stress seems to be a major factor in almost all negative things that happen to us. Our bodies do not handle it well and bad things end up happening. This reminds me that I need to find more ways to destress for me.

  23. Blair villanueva

    Thanks for sharing these tips! Yes sometimes we need to watch what we eat, i tend to get acne when I ate oily foods, so I minimize having them. And also diligently cleaning my face even at work office.

  24. Yukti

    Ver nice tips for getting rid of acne. I believe that eating habits impacts a lot on acne. First we need to detoxify ourselves to get acne free skin. Extra exfoliation also worsens the situation.

  25. Stephanie

    Mine are a combination result like my skin, stress and food. I don’t always make the healthiest food choices. Thanks for the suggestions. I need to improve my diet to improve my skin.

  26. UtMinh

    I think diet causes and stress. Every time I eat something that is spicy or too stressful work is acne sprouting. I have changed to limit acne appear, to have smooth skin.

  27. London Mumma

    My aunt suffers from acne quite badly and I think that she will really benefit from this read.

  28. Aziel Morte

    What an awesome post and really informative, now I know how i can treat adult acne.

  29. Denni

    Acnee can be triggered by almost anything , and unfortunately stress is the big enemy hand in hand with the hormonal misbalance’s. Thank you for the great tips

  30. Oma N.

    Very informative!! I know that stress and diet impact my skin greatly. When I am eating right that is when my skin is most under control.

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