Top 10 Reasons You Are Breaking out in Acne in Your Teens

Teenage Acne

One of the worst things that can happen is to look in the mirror when you wake up to see a large zit staring back at you. While it is a common occurrence, teenagers primarily focus on how they will look and what their peers will say. It’s a good idea to start breaking that habit of caring about what others think of you, but that doesn’t do much for your appearance.

Teenagers aren’t the same as adults, so the reasons for acne breakouts are different for them versus adults. It’s best to learn why breakouts happen and what can be done about it. That way, you can try to prevent acne from forming and treat it efficiently if you do experience a breakout.

Whether you’re gearing up for a first date or dance, or have a big test coming up, you may notice that a breakout happens a few days before or the day of the event. This is common, and it is one of the many reasons. Just know that you don’t have to let stress and breakouts rule your teenage years. You can have fun, experience everything, and look excellent doing it with a little knowledge and some treatment options and preventative tips.

Teen acne, while common, isn’t something that any teenager wants to deal with because they don’t want to get laughed at or turned down for a date. Therefore, it’s essential to learn about the top reasons you break out in acne during your teenage years so that you can be well-informed.


10Precocious Puberty Can Cause Teenage Acne

In the science community, a phenomenon known as precocious puberty is stirring up controversy. Some medical authorities don’t agree that there is a clinical definition for puberty, but well-documented cases have identified that physical changes do come with puberty, such as pubic hair growth, the first menstrual period (in girls), and breast development. For boys, symptoms can include a deepening voice, facial hair, and larger penis or testicles. While the age for such changes used to be around 12 years old, girls and boys as young as 7-years old are seeing these changes and indicators. In most cases, acne usually accompanies such body changes.

Precocious puberty means that the child’s body starts changing into an adult’s body too soon. The cause of precocious puberty starts with the brain; when it makes the Gn-RH hormone, it causes the pituitary glands to release their hormones, which makes the body start producing sex hormones, which starts puberty too soon.

While precocious puberty is usually nothing to be alarmed about, the body changes do cause acne for most children. Regardless of when puberty hits, acne is usually a part of the process. While the exact cause for acne isn’t well-established, hormones play a role, and more androgens are released during puberty. Androgens enlarge the oil glands in the skin and make the body produce more sebum.

There isn’t much that can be done for traditional or precocious puberty; it’s the body’s natural growth spurt. However, you can focus on eating a healthy diet, washing your face correctly and thoroughly, and following up with dermatologist and doctor appointments to keep acne in check.


9Genetics Can Determine If You Will Have Acne Breakouts 

If you notice bright red pimples all over your face, you can thank your parents for that. Genetics can play a role in acne for teenagers. However, you didn’t inherit a specific acne gene from your mom or dad, so it’s hard to tell if you will experience breakouts in your teens on a genetic level. If you haven’t done so already, you may want to ask your parents about their teenaged years. Did they have pimples all the time or did they seem to have clear skin? If they did have acne, it’s a good indication that you are going to develop it, as well. Before you start bemoaning the fact or yelling at your parents, please remember that there are things you can do to avoid acne breakouts and prevent it. If it’s unpreventable, you can still take steps to reduce the length of time the breakout occurs and how severe the breakout is.

Just know that many factors can lead to acne, such as your immune system, what hormones are produced, and how well you take care of your body. If you know you have a hereditary tendency to get acne, you are more likely to watch what you eat, clean your face/body efficiently, and stay on top of exercise. Knowing is half the battle; it is best to try and determine when you break out and what might have caused it. For example, young girls may find that they break out in pimples right before their period or after eating too much sugar. Make note of these things and try to avoid them or do/eat them in moderation to avoid frequent breakouts.


8Some Medications Can Cause Acne

Teenagers tend to be put on medications for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it is because of a serious illness (mental or physical). Other times, the medication is needed for a short period, such as prednisone use for bronchitis or other upper respiratory issues. While many people don’t read the side effects, one possible side effect of many medications is the development of acne. Just because you can get acne from the medicine doesn’t mean you will. However, it is essential that you are aware that it is possible.

Drugs that can cause acne include barbiturates, corticosteroids, lithium, DHEA, anticonvulsants, androgenic steroids and any medication that contains iodides or bromides. While DHEA supplements aren’t likely to be recommended for teens, many teenagers use lithium to combat bipolar disorder. Along with such, iodides and bromides can be found in cough medicines and sedatives.

It’s not as common to have acne development caused by prescription drugs, but it is a possibility. In most cases, teenagers with acne already who then take these medications find that it exacerbates the issue or they develop more severe acne or more frequent breakouts.

While it is tempting to stop taking medications you know can cause acne, especially during an outbreak, it is imperative that you keep taking your medication as prescribed by your doctor. If the medication is short-term (meaning you’re only taking it to get over an illness), the acne is likely to clear up when you do stop taking the medicine. If you must take the medication for prolonged periods, it’s best to talk to your doctor or dermatologist to determine what you can do to prevent acne breakouts. Many times, a change to your diet and a lowering of stress levels is all you need to keep acne in check.


7Wearing Makeup Can Clog the Pores 

Whenever you put anything on your face, you run the risk of clogging the pores. Pores are small holes that allow air into the skin, oxygenating it and keeping it healthy. When these small holes get covered all the time with makeup, dead skin cells, and other debris, it can get trapped in the pore. You can’t wash it out easily, which is why you develop pimples. Most teen girls also believe it is best to hide their zits with foundation or concealer, but doing so can actually make it worse. Your pores are already clogged, and you’re putting more products on it to clog it up even more.

While teenage girls are likely to want to experiment with makeup, they should focus on noncomedogenic products. These products are formulated specifically for people with acne breakouts and are designed not to block the pores. Comedogenic products tend to clog the pores. Most makeup products do contain ingredients that clog the pores. Of course, many people use them without an issue. You may find that using inexpensive makeup products and washing your face thoroughly at night can prevent breakouts. If not, you should focus on noncomedogenic makeup products. You can research options online or look at the label to make sure it is noncomedogenic.


6BPA Can Be a Cause of Acne in Your Teen Years

Another commonly cited cause of acne is BPA (Bisphenol A), which is a compound that mimics estrogen. It was developed as a synthetic estrogen for women going through menopause and is now found in some plastics. More than a million pounds of BPA get into the environment each year. It’s also found in cash register receipts, hard plastics, and dental sealants.

BPA can cause severe issues for teenagers. In boys, it can lower their testosterone levels, affect fertility, and affect performance in sports. In young girls, high exposure to BPA can cause acne, PMS and other issues. As teenage girls age, it can also cause early menopause.

While studies have shown the problems associated with BPA and manufacturers have taken steps to remove it from water bottles and other products, you can still be subjected to BPA without knowing it.

There isn’t much that can be done about BPA exposure, other than making sure that the plastic water bottles you use do not include it. It might be best to purchase a personal water bottle that is BPA-free and only use that bottle for drinking.

While not related, PBB (Polybrominated Biphenyl) can also cause acne. It’s a flame-retardant for fabrics, so it might be best to not wear flame-retardant clothing or look for options without PBB.


5Your Menstrual Cycle Could Be to Blame for Acne (Teen Girls)

You should cut out junk the week before your period. This may cause problems regarding your skin.

While you may be new to the menstrual cycle and periods, you are going to get used to them quickly. Most girls reach puberty around age 12 and start having periods. You can expect PMS, moodiness, and cramps, but acne is also likely to rear its ugly head. Teenagers aren’t likely to know how to deal with all the stress of their period, as that comes with age. However, there are a few things you can do to make it less stressful.

Understanding acne during the menstrual cycle is the first step. Usually, toward the beginning of your cycle, you have higher amounts of estrogen with progesterone being prevalent during the second half. As it comes time for your body to bleed, both hormone levels fall. However, testosterone stays constant all the time, which means before/during menstruation, the testosterone levels are higher than female hormones. All the hormonal shifts take a toll on the skin and can cause acne.

Now that you know why acne can form right before your period, it’s helpful to learn what you can do to prevent it. Start with your diet and try to eat healthy all the time. If you do enjoy junk foods, make sure they are only eaten in moderation. Along with such, you may want to cut out junk the week before your period. It can be hard for teenagers to determine when their period will hit because your body is still regulating itself to becoming an adult, which means you may not bleed at the same time each month (or every 28 days). Just try to keep track of when you start and how long you flow to get a better idea of when to lay off junk food.


4A Teenager’s Skin Is Still Maturing

The best way to prevent acne is to eat healthily and try not to touch your face or a pimple as the teenager’s skin keep on maturing

During your teenage years, your entire body and everything within is still maturing and isn’t where it will be as an adult. That includes the brain, spine, internal organs, and the skin itself. Because your hormones are fluctuating all the time, it makes sense that your skin wouldn’t know how to handle it all. It stresses the body, which means acne is likely to form on the face and other areas of the body. While there isn’t much you can do for maturing skin except let it do its thing and take its time, you can prevent acne breakouts and shorten their length.

The best thing to do is to learn about proper skin care and follow a strict but loving skincare regimen. Instead of using astringents and other harsh chemicals, try to use natural products. It’s also best to focus on moisturizing the skin to put back good and healthy moisture and get rid of sebum/oil without drying the skin. Other ways to prevent acne is to eat healthily and try not to touch your face or the pimple. It’s never a good idea to pick at or pop pimples; let them heal and scab over on their own to prevent scarring and spread of infection.


3Processed Foods Can Trigger an Outbreak

If you tend to eat simple carbohydrates and sugar, such as chips, cookies, and other processed ‘junk’ food, you can expect more acne breakouts.

While studies are inconclusive as to what foods cause pimples, scientists do know that poor nutrition can cause more breakouts in acne-prone teenagers. Many foods can cause acne breakouts, such as sweets, carbs, grease/fatty foods, dairy, and more. Sugar is well-known for causing acne, but cocoa does not. Therefore, you may initially think that chocolate won’t be a problem, but it contains a lot of sugar. If you tend to eat simple carbohydrates and sugar, such as chips, cookies, and other processed ‘junk’ food, you can expect more acne breakouts. Along with such, starches from pasta, potatoes, and white bread can also be the culprit. Sugar in any form, including soda, can also cause acne.

It happens because these foods can spike the blood sugar, so your body has to produce more insulin to combat it and remove the sugar and carbs from your body. When insulin is produced, it also makes the body produce more skin oil that can clog the pores and follicles.

Other foods that can cause acne include greasy foods and dairy. Also, if you work at a fast-food restaurant or near grease (such as frying French fries), you may find that the oil you work around can cause breakouts, too.

Combat these issues by washing your face when you finish your shift and trying to eat more healthily.


2Improper Cleaning Techniques Can Trigger Outbreaks

While washing your face, make sure you use a mild soap and don’t scrub the face to avoid acne and maintain hygiene.

Teenagers aren’t well-known for their personal hygiene. While girls tend to wash themselves more thoroughly than boys, skincare regimens are lacking in both genders. If you know that you have acne, the best thing you can do is wash your body and face thoroughly every day. Most teens like taking showers in the morning, but if you wear makeup, you may want to wash at night. Along with such, you may shower in the morning and wash your body but not the face. Then, at the end of the night, wash your face and remove all the makeup.

Many professionals recommend washing the face twice a day, but you may want to talk to your doctor or dermatologist to see how often you should wash. Also, make sure you use a mild soap and don’t scrub the face. Once it’s washed and patted dry, you should follow up with moisturizer. If you do wash your face with an acne wash, it is highly drying; use a noncomedogenic moisturizer to replenish some of the moisture that was removed and prevent dry skin.

Learning how to wash your face is the best way to prevent acne flare-ups from happening. While these mentioned tips are helpful, there are many others you can learn about to help you combat acne in your teenage years.


1Washing the Face with Astringent Can Cause Acne

The astringent is drying and can irritate the skin, so be careful while washing your face

Astringents are well-known to be a treatment for acne. They help you remove more bacteria and dirt from the pores, which can cause acne. However, the astringent is also drying and can irritate the skin, so it is essential that you use them as directed on the package or by your dermatologist/doctor.

Astringents also focus on tightening the skin’s pores to reduce the amount of acne you see. However, there is a downfall of that because if you already have acne, the astringent can be irritating to the skin and cause a breakout.

It might be best to just use the astringent on the oily areas of your face and not all over. It’s also essential that you use the astringent sparingly. Try to find a mild soap or cleanser to use every day. If you notice oily patches after cleansing, consider using the astringent on those areas only. Then, when the astringent is removed, follow up with a moisturizer that doesn’t clog the pores.

Most skincare specialists are turning their backs on astringents altogether and ask their patients to try toner instead. Alcohol-free products are usually recommended, and toners are well-known to balance the pH levels in the skin. In the past, toner was used after cleaning the face to rebalance the pH levels. Oil is essential to maintain healthy skin and most astringents remove too much oil from the face.



Teenagers aren’t usually focused on eating right, cleaning themselves, or paying attention to their body changes, but when an outbreak of acne happens, they start panicking. Instead of waiting until you get an outbreak, learn more about why acne forms and take steps to prevent it. When you do see an outbreak, leave the pimples alone and let them heal themselves. It’s a tough thing to do because you want to get rid of it as fast as possible. However, popping the zits or picking at them can cause them to take longer to heal and could result in scarring.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you see a huge zit has formed overnight (or you feel that zit coming out with itching and tightness), but the last thing you should do is panic. Learning about proper nutrition and skincare is the first step to preventing breakouts now and throughout your adult years. Along with such, you can expect to have healthier skin when you eat wholesome foods, reduce the amount of junk you eat, and keep your face and body clean. While there are many things you can’t control, such as hormone levels, environmental issues, and more, you can work to make them less stressful on the body. If you do still have concerns, you can always talk to your doctor about medications and treatment options that are suitable for you. Most doctors can help you find solutions, but some may refer you to a dermatologist for more specialized care.