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Why Am I Breaking Out? Understanding the Causes of Acne

Some people are lucky. They can eat whatever they want without gaining weight. Others are lucky because they can eat whatever they want without getting acne.  While you may understand the role metabolism plays in who gains weight and who doesn’t, trying to figure out why some people get acne may leave you confused (and a little bit envious).

We can help. First let’s talk about what actually creates the acne. For most of us, it begins with hormones in puberty. The sudden influx of hormones during that time sets our oil glands into overdrive. These oil glands under the skin are connected to our pores via tiny canals called follicles. Our hair grows out of these follicles, but they’re also the paths through which the oil travels to the surface of our skin. The combination of excess oil, dead skin cells, and hair can lead to blockage in our follicles. Add bacteria to the mixture, and what you get is clogged pores and pimples.

Unfortunately for some, the oil production doesn’t slow down after puberty, and their acne persists into adulthood. Others experience acne flare-ups only in the days leading up to their menstrual period. And then, of course, there are those lucky ducks whose skin remains clear, bright, and blemish-free at all times.

Why me and not her?

You and your best friend both eat pizza every Friday night, so why do you have acne and she doesn’t? We would love to tell you that your Friday night pizza is the reason you have acne because then the fix would be as simple as not eating pizza. But unfortunately, there could be a number of reasons your acne persists.

Genetics – If your parents had/have persistent acne, you’re more likely to have it, too.

Cosmetics – According to, cosmetic-induced acne is so common it has its own name: acne cosmetica. Many women exacerbate it by using more makeup to cover up the acne, resulting in…well, more acne.  Your moisturizers and makeup tools could be culprits as well.

Environment – High humidity, oil and bacteria from your hands, or even your cell phone can cause you to break out. Face towels and laundry detergent can, too.

Medications – Certain medications can cause acne.  Ask your doctor to review your medications to see if anything you’re taking might be the cause of your acne.  

Diet – For some people, the hormones in dairy products lead to hormonal imbalances in their own body. For others, the foods that cause a blood sugar spike and lead to an overproduction of insulin then stimulate the oil glands and result in acne.

Stress – Psychological stress won’t actually give you acne, but it can exacerbate the situation if you’re acne prone. Sleep, exercise, and relaxation can all help keep psychological stress at bay.

Have you already tried everything to get rid of your acne? We can help.

At San Diego Cosmetic Laser Clinic, we have a number of patients who come to us to help clear their skin of acne and other blemishes. Many of them have tried everything before they find us.  We’re proud to say that once they arrive on our doorstep, they stop looking because our methods for acne treatment work.

Our treatment options for acne include:

Blu-U-Light for acne

This non-invasive, pain-free light therapy uses narrow band blue light to effectively kill bacteria that’s responsible for acne. Through a series of brief (15-minute) exposure sessions once or twice a week, Blu-U can be used to control your acne. In some cases, this treatment results in clearer skin on its own. In other cases, patients find best results when they combine it with pharmaceuticals and topical treatments.

Photodynamic Acne Treatment

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) uses light-based technology plus a topical chemical to treat severe and persistent cystic acne. It works to treat immediate acne as well as to prevent post-acne scars. The two-step treatment begins with the application of a light-absorbing agent to the surface of your skin. The agent is then activated by blue light, killing the acne causing bacteria.  Additional benefits include smoother skin texture, reduced pore-size, and the removal of pre-cancerous actinic keratosis.

Cosmelan for acne scars

Cosmelan is a chemical peel that reduces dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and other discoloration. It’s also a wonderfully effective treatment for acne scars. The two-step process includes 1) the application of Cosmelan, which is worn as a mask for 6 to 10 hours, and 2) a daily product applied at home for 3 to 4 weeks.  Results are noticeable within as little as one week.

Come see us!

Of course, not every method works for every person. The causes of your acne will play a part in determining the best method to get rid of it. If you schedule a consultation with Dr. Parvin Mani, she’ll listen to your concerns, assess your skin, and provide you with a customized treatment plan just for you.

Give us a call to schedule a consultation. It’ll put you one step closer to the clear, radiant skin you deserve.

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