What Causes Pimples? No Matter What I Do, They Keep Coming!

What causes pimples? Now there’s a good question. While the scientific community has not come to a definitive decision regarding the cause of acne, we do know how they form.

Pimples are formed by oil that is secreted from the sebaceous glands. These glands vary in size from person to person. When you hear someone talking about having “large pores,” this is what they’re referring to.

The fact that the sebaceous glands enlarge around the time of puberty may explain why teens have the biggest problem with pimples.

So, everyone secretes oil from their sebaceous glands, but some of us produce more than others. This can be due to genetics (if your mom or dad had bad acne, you’re more likely to as well!), hormones (watch out during pregnancy and other times of hormonal change), stress, environmental factors, and maybe even diet. (And, no, chocolate doesn’t cause zits.)

What causes pimples is when oil gets trapped in glands or follicles. This may be the oil that your sebaceous glands secretes (sebum), or it could be oil and dirt from your hands, oil from make-up or soaps, or oil from cooking. (Blech!!)

Testosterone, a hormone present in both men and women, can trigger excess sebum production. In addition, dead skin cells that haven’t sloughed off can work their way into the hair follicles and clog them, creating acne.

A build-up of oil in the hair follicles causes the types of acne known as blackheads and whiteheads. Red acne spots form when Propionibacterium (a bacteria) grows in the hair follicles. Picking at or popping this kind of pimple can spread the bacteria and create bigger problems.

Inflammatory acne appears under the skin…these are cysts that may never rise to the surface, but they can spread and cause long-term scarring.

So, what it comes down to is that no one thing is the cause of acne. Although there are a lot of factors as to what causes pimples, it usually comes down to hormones and genetic factors. That doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to these things, though. You can take it under control by taking care of your skin.