How to Know What Causes Your Acne Year-Round

Woman with pimple on her chin How to Know What Causes Your Acne Year-Round

Acne does not go away with the changing seasons, but its triggers, severity, and treatment options can change a bit as the year goes on. Want to get to the bottom of what’s causing your persistent acne? Read on.

What to Know About Causes of Acne

What Causes Acne

Acne is a skin condition that has frustrated millions of people for decades. While we understand most of what causes acne, it’s still a struggle to treat effectively. It takes trial, error, and as much prevention as it does treatment. Our skin naturally produces oil, which helps protect the skin and helps form a moisture barrier, preventing too much hydration to be lost to the air. But the skin can over-produce this oil, called sebum, and that’s when acne forms. The sebaceous glands become blocked and fill with oil and other dirt and debris. This forms the dreaded pimples, blackheads, or cysts that we are all familiar with. So we know it’s excess oil that causes acne, but that’s not quite the whole picture. Why is there excess sebum in the first place? What’s causing acne at a deeper level? That’s where things get a bit murkier. Let’s discuss some of the major acne triggers that can cause your acne year-round.

1. Hormonal Changes

    One major cause of acne is sudden changes in hormones. Acne can also happen when hormonal shifts are long-term and ongoing. Most of us associate acne with our teen years most notably, and that’s because during puberty, hormones are causing skin to become extra oily. But there are other major hormonal shifts in a person’s life. A major acne trigger that happens later in life is pregnancy. Pregnant women often experience breakouts because the hormone progesterone is surging during the first trimester. Some women note acne breakouts coinciding with their menstrual cycle, and it’s more common to experience acne during pregnancy if this is true for you. But there are other hormones that can cause acne. Take the stress hormone cortisol, for instance.

    Stress can do even more than just make you miss sleep and feel crummy. Stress can actually lead to acne breakouts. Why? Stress is a psychological and physiological response to perceived threats. When stress is constant, say, during the holiday season or in performance review month at work, acne is likely to crop up. Our bodies produce hormones like cortisol when under stress. These send signals to a variety of nerves and parts of the body to be on edge. When that lasts days or weeks, the sebaceous glands start to read those signals and produce more and more oil. And so, to add on to your stress, you now have a breakout.

    2. Seasonal Shifts

      The seasons can make acne worse for some people, and the two main culprit seasons are winter and summer. That’s because winter and summer are the two most extreme seasons, speaking climatologically. In the winter, your skin becomes drier. That might sound like a good thing, but all it does is drive your sebaceous glands into overdrive. In the winter, your skin can actually make even more oil. That means that while the air is sapping your skin’s moisture, you’re feeling dry and struggling with more breakouts. With summer comes more humid air, and with that more moisture. It also means you’re sweating a lot more, using sunscreen and exposing your skin to more blowing dust and dirt. All those factors combine to clog pores, making summer breakouts likely if you’re not being vigilant.

      3. Your Habits

        Acne is cruel, and it will take advantage of any mistakes you make when it comes to taking care of your skin. Many people who wear makeup might notice that they have had fewer breakouts since COVID has kept them from going into the office every day. That’s because some makeup can actually clog pores, and from there, acne is a sure thing. Opt for makeup that’s explicitly labeled non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores. A good skincare routine is based on a good moisturizer, but if you’re over-moisturizing or using a heavier moisturizer than you need, you may actually be helping your pores clog themselves. If you deal with dry skin and acne, make sure you’re not using a product that’s too heavy and thick. Other, simpler factors like touching your face too often, using oily hair care products that then come into contact with your skin, or over-exfoliating can also lead to acne breakouts. Acne-prone skin is sensitive to breakouts, so you need to tread lightly with it!


        So acne is possible year-round, and there’s no break from it if you’re not careful. Now that you know what can cause your acne regardless of or due to the season, reach out to the pros at Northeast Dermatology Associates for more advice on treating and preventing acne.

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