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5 things that could be worsening your breakouts

When you have acne that just won’t seem to go away, or find yourself with new or worsening breakouts, you might start to wonder – what’s causing my breakouts?

One of the first steps toward clearer skin is figuring out what’s making your skin breakout in the first place. So, take a look at these 5 most common contributors to acne and ask yourself if any of them might apply to you. Remember – for many people, it’s not just one thing. Usually a combination of factors worsen breakouts (and that’s ok!).

5 common causes of acne and breakouts

1. Oil build-up

When people hear oil build-up, they often think this means that you’re not cleaning your skin enough, but that is by no means the only way you can end up with acne from an excess of sebum (the oil your skin produces).

Sure, washing your face at least twice a day with a gentle cleanser is a good first step to take if you’re not already doing it, but oil build-up can happen anyway – for many people, the relative dryness or oiliness of their skin and how prone they are to acne is hereditary. Your skin can also produce more oil after sun damage, if it’s been irritated by something touching or rubbing it, and because of increased physical activity.

Most frustratingly, your skin can also produce more oil when it gets dried out – which is why everyone who suffers from breakouts should include a good, gentle moisturizer designed for acne-prone skin in their skincare routine. If you’re already washing your face regularly, check your products to make sure you’re using something non-drying, use sunscreen on the regular, and always wash your face after workouts and after it’s been in contact with anything that might rub (from a boyfriend’s beard to a scarf to a surgical mask, friction can equal oil production!).

2. Hormones

While hormonal imbalances are typically associated with teen acne, many adults – especially adult women – find that they experience fluctuations in acne around menstruation and menopause. These fluctuations are typically associated with higher levels of androgen hormones like testosterone. The result is skin inflammation and increased oil production leading to more clogged hair follicles and an increase in acne-causing bacteria on the skin and in the gut.

Because of its relation to natural processes in the body, hormonal acne can be hard to treat, but many of the routine changes suggested for other kinds of acne – like switching to a gentle, water-based cleanser and balancing your microbiome with acne-fighting probiotics, vitamins, and diet changes – can help reduce hormonal acne breakouts too.

3. Medications & products

Many people find that their acne is caused by the products they use or medications they take. Prescription drugs containing androgens, corticosteroids, and lithium can all make acne worse (among others). And that’s not all. Makeup, moisturizers, perfumes, sunscreens – and even some old school over-the-counter acne treatments meant to help your skin – can make things worse instead of better.

While you can’t necessarily change medications, you can use topical solutions to keep the presentation of drug-induced acne at bay. Regular exfoliation and products that help balance the skin’s microbiome can assist in the reduction of symptoms.

And when it comes to other products, the best thing to do is to find the culprit and remove it from your routine – and ensure that the products you keep using are being used in a skin-healthy way. After all, a lot of us don’t want to just stop wearing make-up, as much as our skin might thank us. However, we can make sure that we’re thoroughly cleansing our skin at the beginning and end of each day and that we’re choosing products that are gentle and non-comedogenic wherever possible.

4. Stress & anxiety

This is a tough one, but it’s important. Stress simply isn’t good for your body. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. In general, stress and anxiety can cause inflammation, and in particular, they can cause your adrenaline and cortisol to spike, both of which can increase the skin’s oil production and leave you broken out.

To make matters worse, many people are more likely to pick at zits and pop pimples when stressed, which can spread acne bacteria and further exacerbate the issue.

While you may not be able to quit your stressful job or go hide in peaceful solitude in the woods for a month, you can make sure your skin is getting the care it needs. That means sticking with your skincare routine, prioritizing a good night’s sleep, taking care of yourself with diet and exercise (and maybe a little meditation, if you can swing it) – and using hydrocolloid pimple patches to keep yourself from picking and popping.

5. Diet & an unbalanced microbiome

Last but certainly not least, science has shown us that one of the primary causes of acne is an imbalance in an individual’s gut and skin microbiomes. Maybe you’ve heard the old wives’ tale that too much chocolate will give you zits? While that’s not necessarily directly true (cacao can be good for you!), we have learned over the years that an overgrowth of bad bacteria and too little good bacteria to fight it off is a huge cause of inflammation in the body and breakouts on the skin. And sugar and refined carbs can help feed those bad bacteria and contribute negatively to that imbalance. So getting your diet right – and taking skin-healthy probiotics (or using topical products with probiotics) to boost your microbiome’s good, acne-fighting bacteria can make a big difference. 

An unbalanced microbiome can also be caused by certain old school acne products – antibiotics and other products that essentially bomb the skin can kill both your good and bad bacteria, leaving room for the bad, acne-causing bacteria to flourish.

Struggling to get on board? While probiotics might sound to some like a hippy-dippy solution, it’s an acne treatment backed by science. (In fact, Dermala was founded by a microbiologist!) Our Scantily Pads, made with salicylic acid and a patented blend of probiotics, were clinically proven in blind trials to outperform the drug store competition in just about every metric.

So what can you do about the causes of your acne?

Acne breakouts can be frustrating. Fortunately, if you’re fighting breakouts, you’re not alone – and there is something you can do. 

Whichever of these factors are causing your breakouts, you can give you skin the best possible shot to heal your acne with these simple, practical steps:

- Wash your face twice a day with a gentle, water-based cleanser (and after every workout or mask-wearing outing)

- Choose topical products that help balance your skin’s microbiome

- Take a skin-friendly probiotic and/or probiotic and vitamin mix (check with your doctor before starting a new vitamin or probiotic regimen if you’re on other medications)

- Use a moisturizer designed for acne-prone skin

- Remove any skin-drying products from your routine

- Don’t skip the sunscreen (and use a gentle sunscreen designed for the face)

- Avoid wearing makeup and things that rub against or irritate your skin whenever possible

- Cleanse thoroughly after a day of make-up wearing (consider a double cleanse!)

- Exfoliate regularly

- Use pimple patches to prevent picking and popping and keep bacteria from spreading

In short, the key to making a change for the better for your skin is a great, skin-friendly routine, inside and outside. 

At Dermala, we make it easy to make a change. Get started today with a personalized Dermala #FOBO Kit and get ready to live your best skin.



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