Do a Google search for “how to get rid of acne fast" and you'll see plenty of websites telling you to eat better for clear skin. But are there really foods that cause acne, or is that an old wives' tale? Dermatologist Hilary Baldwin, MD, of the Acne Treatment and Research Centre in Morristown, New Jersey, says the answer isn't really simple at all. "The simple answer is, we don't know. So far studies have suggested that high-glycemic index diets (those with lots of white foods like potatoes, pasta, bread, rice and sweets), as well as diets high in skim-milk dairy products and whey protein supplements might be associated with worsening of existing acne but are less likely to cause acne," Baldwin says.
This article was medically reviewed by Hilary Baldwin, MD. Baldwin, medical director of the Acne Treatment Research Center, is a board-certified dermatologist with nearly 25 years of experience. Her area of expertise and interest are acne, rosacea and keloid scars. Baldwin received her BA and MA in biology from Boston University. She became a research assistant at Harvard University before attending Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed a medical internship at Yale New Haven Hospital before becoming a resident and chief resident in dermatology at New York University Medical Center.
You may have been told that what you eat affects your skin and that it can be the cause of pimples and outbreaks, but the debate about diet playing a role in acne frequency still rages on. Many dermatologists will vehemently dismiss the claims that food and acne are linked, as so much of the research surrounding this aspect of skin care has been inconclusive. Studies either yielded weak results, or were flawed with too few subjects or lack of control groups. 
This is Dr. Schultz's number-one piece of advice. "Exfoliation is the most important thing you can do on a regular basis to be fighting acne both in terms of preventing it and treating it." His go-to ingredient? Glycolic acid. While a glycolic cleanser will help, a treatment that really soaks into your skin is what will give you the results you want. Try BeautyRx Advanced 10% Exfoliating Pads or Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum.
Unfortunately, subtype 2 rosacea was historically referred to as “acne rosacea,” reflecting the belief that the two conditions were related. Although it is now known that there is no connection between acne and rosacea, the term can still be found in older literature about the disease, as well as in occasional reports today. This has often led to confusion by the public, and rosacea sufferers with bumps and pimples may mistakenly self-diagnose themselves as having acne. The two disorders require different treatment, however, and acne medications may cause rosacea symptoms to get worse.
Bellafill is a dermal filler approved for the correction of moderate to severe, atrophic, distensible facial acne scars on the cheeks in patients over the age of 21. This injection provides immediate improvement — like, your skin is improved by the time you leave the office. Once it's injected, the collagen goes to work immediately, adding natural-looking volume and lift to soften acne scars. Over time, your body naturally metabolizes the collagen — but the results remain intact. In fact, Z. Paul Lorenc, a New York City-based plastic surgeon, explains, “90 percent of patients who used Bellafill to treat their acne scars were still satisfied with the results at the one-year mark." The best part? There is no downtime and you can return to normal activities right away.
As mentioned above, genetics are thought to play a major role in your susceptibility to acne. However, using the best acne products and taking good care of your skin can help you prevent worsening acne and scars later in life. Check out these other known acne causes and aggravators and see how to prevent acne by cutting some of these out of your life:
Many people use beaten egg whites as a facial acne mask. The mask is applied to the face for about 15 minutes, then it is washed off and the skin is GENTLY patted dry with a soft cloth. Eggs have potent healing properties (due to the protein contained within) which makes this a great method for healing and clearing away acne. This is by no means an overnight acne cure, so don't get upset when you find out you have to use this technique for a matter of weeks before the effects begin to show.
EradiKate™ Mask Foam-Activated Acne Treatment gently exfoliates dead skin cells and helps unclog pores while sulfur reduces the appearances and helps prevent pimples, zits, and future breakouts. Within minutes Kate’s unique foam-activated technology penetrates to help dissolve impurities and dirt, and address oily skin. An advanced botanical complex of boswellia serrata, honey extracts, and rice bran work to calm and soothe skin. Use this mask with Kate Somerville’s bestselling EradiKate Acne Treatment for an acne regimen that promotes a clearer complexion.
Both Avram and Tzu recommend looking for products with mark-fading hydroquinone. Ambi Fade Cream includes 2 percent hydroquinone, the highest concentration allowed without a prescription. “It also contains soy, which is well known for treating pigmentation issues, and vitamin E which helps with scarring,” says Tzu. While the FDA considers hydroquinone safe, it is banned in Europe and can potentially cause irritation or further discoloration, so remember to patch-test and check with a dermatologist whether it’s right for you.
Although acne remains largely a curse of adolescence, about 20% of all cases occur in adults. Acne commonly starts during puberty between the ages of 10 and 13 and tends to be worse in people with oily skin. Teenage acne usually lasts for five to 10 years, normally going away during the early 20s. It occurs in both sexes, although teenage boys tend to have the most severe cases. Women are more likely than men to have mild to moderate forms into their 30s and beyond.
Surgery frequently treats rhinophyma of the nose. A physician uses a scalpel, laser, or electro surgery to remove the excess tissue. Dermabrasion can help improve the look of the scar tissue. Follow-up treatments with laser or intense pulsed light may help lessen the redness. Medical maintenance therapy with oral and or topical antibiotics may be useful to decrease the chance of recurrence.
Although acne remains largely a curse of adolescence, about 20% of all cases occur in adults. Acne commonly starts during puberty between the ages of 10 and 13 and tends to be worse in people with oily skin. Teenage acne usually lasts for five to 10 years, normally going away during the early 20s. It occurs in both sexes, although teenage boys tend to have the most severe cases. Women are more likely than men to have mild to moderate forms into their 30s and beyond.
Acne scars, on the other hand, are formed when there is damage to the skin which leads to abnormal collagen production, and usually appear raised or bumpy. "There are two types of acne scars: depressed and raised. Depressed scars may look like pits or craters, and raised scars may be firm and tender," explains Dr. Zeichner, who notes that unfortunately, these are permanent.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a procedure that treats precancerous cells, in addition to other types of cancer cells. The medical treatment does this with the help of a photosensitizing drug and a light source that activates the applied drug, destroying cancer cells. PDT is approved to treat non-small cell lung cancer, esophageal cancer, and Barrett's esophagus. It's used to treat actinic keratosis, as well as acne, rosacea, skin cancer, sun damage, oily skin, wrinkles, warts, psoriasis, and enlarged sebaceous glands.
While acne is a much more visible condition than most, it is important to remember that it is like most diseases, in which early detection can help to mitigate its impact. Bearing that in mind, we have taken the time to put together 10 of the most common causes for acne, so that you can be better informed and potentially avoid some (and only some) of its root causes.

The hair follicles, or pores, in your skin contain sebaceous glands (also called oil glands). These glands make sebum, which is an oil that lubricates your hair and skin. Most of the time, the sebaceous glands make the right amount of sebum. As the body begins to mature and develop, though, hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to make more sebum.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
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