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What Are the Causes of Adolescent, Youth or Juvenile Acne?

What Are the Causes of Adolescent, Youth or Juvenile Acne? What Are the Causes of Adolescent, Youth or Juvenile Acne?

The exact cause of acne is unknown, though hormones, heredity and other factors play a part. Anyone can have acne, regardless of age, sex or race, but acne is most common in teenagers and young adults, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Acne affects mostly the face, neck, chest, shoulders and upper back. While acne is not a serious threat to your health, it can leave both physical and emotional scars.

Hormonal Changes

Under the skin, sebaceous glands are connected to hair follicles. These glands produce an oily substance called sebum, which carries dead skin cells to the surface by pushing up through the hair follicle canal and out onto the skin. Sometimes the sebum, cells and hair clump together and plug up the follicle, causing bacteria to grow and white cells to inflame the area. The result is a pimple. During puberty, both boys and girls undergo hormonal changes. In particular, androgens, or male sex hormones, increase in both sexes and cause sebaceous glands in the skin to enlarge and produce more sebum. The increased sebum causes the follicles to become clogged, leading to acne lesions. Girls may also break out around the time of their menstrual cycles or during pregnancy.


The size and activity level of sebaceous glands may be influenced by heredity, explains the Health Service at the University of Michigan. The larger and more active the glands are, the greater the chance of developing acne. Acne tends to run in families, and children are more likely to develop acne during their teenage years if their parents also had acne.


Some medicines can contribute to the development of acne. Corticosteroids such as prednisone or hydrocortisone and lithium, used to treat some mood disorders, can cause outbreaks of acne. Androgen medications, such as testosterone or anabolic steroids, as well as the female hormone estrogen and phenytoin, which is used to control seizures, also cause acne.

Greasy, Oily Substances

Greasy lotions and cosmetics, hair products, and even cooking oil—think teenagers standing over a vat of French fries in a fast food restaurant—can clog the skin’s pores and cause blemishes. When choosing products for skin or hair, water-based products that have the word “noncomedogenic” on the label are best. Noncomedogenic means the product should not block pores and will make breaking out less likely.

Skin Friction and Pressure

Backpacks straps, tight collars and bra straps can all contribute to skin irritation and blockage of pores, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. These items can rub and irritate the skin of the back, neck and shoulders. In addition, the pressure and perspiration from bicycle helmets and sweat bands can cause acne on the forehead.

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