< Back

The Scoop on Teenage Acne: What Are the Causes?

September 13, 2022 by VitalSkin Dermatology

Up close of a face from the nose down with acne

Most teenagers will experience acne at some point and 15-30% will develop severe acne. There are several causes/factors that contribute to teenage acne. Below, we will discuss some of the contributing factors for teenage acne and a few ways to minimize the risk. 


There are a few genetic variants that have been linked to teenage acne. We cannot change our genes, but it may be worth finding out if your family members struggled with acne. This will help you get an idea if you or your children may also develop acne, so that you can start treatment early.   

Hormonal Changes 

During puberty, hormones begin to change, and teenagers start to have increased levels of a hormone called androgen. This hormone does many things, including causing increased sebum (AKA oil) production. Sebum helps moisturize the skin, but if there is too much, it can clog pores and cause blackheads and whiteheads. As sebum continue to block pores, it can inflame the glands, causing pimples. Puberty also can affect levels of bacteria on the skin. C. acnes is the main bacteria that contributes to acne. Benzoyl peroxide products such as Skin1765 Clear 5 wash, can be effective in reducing bacteria, and is an easy treatment option for teenagers who don’t want a complicated skincare routine.  

Product Use 

During teenage years, individuals begin to experiment with different products, such as hair care products, makeups, and more. These products can clog pores, contributing to acne. Make sure to look for products labeled “non-comedogenic,” which means that they are formulated to not clog the pores. It is also helpful to keep hair off your face, as products/oil in the hair can make acne worse. If you are wearing sports equipment that sits on the face, be sure to wipe/wash your face and gear after each use. There are a variety of quick use facial wipes over the counter. If you would prefer to try a medicated face wipe (which are a great place to start for very mild acne), try the Skin1765 Clarify 2/2 pads  for dual action cleansing/exfoliating after sports.  

Dietary Associations 

Many studies have been done to look at associations between diet and acne. However, there have been no clear associations found. Some studies indicate that sugary foods and dairy, especially skim milk, might contribute to acne. You can always try temporarily eliminating these foods and see if the acne improves.  


About the Author 

Shannon Driscoll is a board-certified Physician Assistant who practices general medical dermatology at VitalSkin affiliate, Dermatology + Aesthetics. Dermatology + Aesthetics is conveniently located in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. If you feel that taking these steps is not controlling your acne, please visit one of our dermatology providers to discuss additional treatment options.  

Online Scheduling

Schedule your appointment, today!

Make an Appointment
Make an Appointment