Why Am I Breaking Out? Causes of Acne and How to Prevent It

31st December 2021

Acne is a very common skin concern but many with it are unsure of the causes of acne which makes it hard to treat it. We all know the feeling too well of witnessing a new one sprout up. It can undoubtedly dampen our mood. If it is an ongoing problem like acne, it can leave many feeling insecure. As a result, this often affects their self-esteem.

What’s worse, when we try to cover them up with makeup, it often emphasises the blemishes. This only leaves us feeling more ashamed. While many people with acne opt for prescription medication, getting rid of acne requires a combination of different products and lifestyle changes.

Let’s delve into the causes of acne and look at some ways you can prevent it.

What Characterises a Breakout?

If you are new to breakouts or have been lucky enough not to experience them yet, you are likely wondering what characterises a breakout. We get it; there are so many different types, for one thing. What’s more, sometimes what you think is a breakout isn’t. The reason our skin breaks out in certain areas is due to our skin producing more oil there. This means you can get spots on your face, back, shoulders, and chest if more oil is being produced here.

The problem with blemishes and acne breakouts is that sometimes the hair follicle will fill up with bacteria. This can result in the skin becoming quite inflamed and red. Dead skin cells also often wind up in the hair follicle and sebum, in other words, the oil our skin produces. This can lead to our pores becoming clogged. To try to remove the contents, the hair follicles push it to the skin’s surface. However, there are several different types of blemishes.

The Different Types of Blemishes

Now that you know what characterises a breakout, let’s jump into the different types of blemishes.

  • Blackhead: You have most likely heard of blackheads before. If not, they are essentially an open comedone that is black in colour. The reason it is black is due to the oil and bacteria in the pore. When exposed to the air, this makes it turn black. Blackheads are usually not very painful or inflamed.
  • Whitehead: While it sounds very similar, whiteheads are a tad different from blackheads. They are closed comedones and usually white or yellow in colour. They are a type of pustule. This refers to a spot filled with pus. Usually, they are not inflamed or painful.
  • Pimples: Pimples are created when the hair follicle becomes clogged with bacteria. Usually, they are quite inflamed, red, and painful.
  • Papules: These are often various kinds of minor skin lesions. They can range from brown to a more pink colour. They can be any shape and can form clusters on the skin.
  • Cystic Acne: Cystic Acne refers to when bacteria, dead skin cells, and sebum are trapped under the skin. Cystic acne spots are usually quite inflamed and red and can be very painful. This is because they form underneath the skin’s surface.

What Are the Causes of Acne?

When we break out in spots, we immediately wonder why and it’s with good reason. After all, if we determine the cause, maybe we can prevent our skin from breaking out further. Many different factors can cause breakouts. Let’s look at the causes of acne breakouts and the causes of acne on the face.

The Products You Are Using

One common reason for skin breaking out comes down to the products you are using. The reality is sometimes you are not using the right products for your skin type. Some products can be too abrasive or just not suitable. For example, if you have oily skin and use oil-based makeup or cleansing milk, you may want to swap out for an oil-free foundation and a cleansing wash or gel.

You can also speak to your doctor or dermatologist to get advice on the exact kind of products you should use on your skin type.

You Smoke

Another reason you may find your skin breaking out is due to smoking cigarettes. It is no secret that smoking is harmful to the human body, but it also has implications for your skin. Numerous studies have confirmed smoking contributes to spots and acne. Experts claim smoking causes the skin to produce more sebum. This means more oil on the skin, which ultimately results in spots.

Given that, if you smoke and have acne, it may be a good idea to start cutting down to see if it makes a difference to your skin.

Touching Your Face

Touching your face is one of the common causes of acne. We are all guilty of this – touching our faces, then answering the phone and not washing in between. Unfortunately, if you are prone to breakouts, these activities can result in the transfer of bacteria which could mean further spots. Even things like not washing your bedding often or excessively rubbing or playing with your face can result in acne flare-ups.

Therefore, it is important to avoid this tempting act and wash your hands regularly.


If your diet features many high glycemic foods like white bread, fizzy drinks, potatoes, and baked goods, this may be by you are breaking out. This is because these sorts of foods have been found to make acne worse. This is because they are usually very processed. They encourage our blood sugar to rise, which means we have increased insulin in our bodies. Our skin created more oil when there is more insulin in our bodies.

Given that, if you want to avoid breakouts, it may be a good idea to do an audit of your diet. See how much high glycemic foods make up your diet and cut them out where you can.

Not Keeping Your Body Hydrated

Water is crucial for our bodies and our skin. By keeping our skin nice and hydrated, it can reduce acne. Despite popular belief, dehydrated skin can actually result in more oil on the skin, and as we know, excessive oil on the skin can lead to breakouts. Given that, dehydration could be the cause of your spots.

Therefore, it is critical to drink your eight glasses a day to keep breakouts at bay.

Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress are one of the common causes of acne. Although feeling anxious or stressed out does not directly cause breakouts, stress can make acne worse. During periods of stress and anxiety, we produce a hormone known as corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH). This hormone causes our skin to produce more oil. As we know, excess oil can cause our skin to break out.

Acne Medications and Treatments

If you are not a newbie to acne and breakouts, you may be on acne medication or be undergoing treatments. While sometimes it is necessary, it can also cause problems for your skin. Primarily dryness, irritation, and inflammation. This is because some of these products can be a bit too abrasive. Therefore, going overboard with them, it is no surprise they could create problems.

When our skin is excessively dry, it works to combat this by creating more oil. Unfortunately, oil can clog pores which means despite your best efforts, these treatments may not be solving your issue. As a result, it is best to err on the side of caution and not overdo it with acne treatments.

Does Lack of Sleep Cause Acne?

Sleep is essential because it gives our bodies time to rest and heal. Our energy levels get restored, our bones and tissues repair and grow, and our immune system is enhanced, to name a few functions that occur during sleep. However, insufficient sleep can result in people feeling increasingly stressed, and this can result in breakouts.

This is because feeling stressed causes our skin to produce more oil. This occurs because our skin produces CRH when we are feeling stressed out. Besides that, when we feel stressed out, we may give in to unhealthy cravings, leading to breakouts.

As a result, if you struggle with sleep, you should try to improve your sleep patterns so as to prevent breakouts. Making sure you get to bed at a decent time and that you get enough hours of sleep is a good start. Another thing that might help you is taking some CBD oil which is recognised for its ability to help with sleep.

Key Takeaways

Now that you know the answer to ‘why am I breaking out,’ you are likely wondering how you can work to prevent acne. Understanding the causes of acne should help you in limiting the number of acne breakouts you incur. However, it is also essential to ensure you are following a good skincare routine. It is best to cleanse twice daily and follow up with moisturiser and serum for oily and acne-prone skin types.

We would recommend you try the Poko Soothing Serum. It is incredibly lightweight on the skin and has lots of active ingredients that fight acne while also ensuring the skin is kept moisturised. It also works to reduce the redness and inflammation which comes with blemishes.

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