While acne can be caused by dirt, excess oil and product residue (from comedogenic ingredients or products that don’t rinse off well), all of which can clog pores, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your skin is “dirty.” You could just be using products with ingredients that tend to clog or irritate pores.
External factors like those mentioned above are common culprits for comedonal acne (whiteheads, blackheads, and normal-sized pimples that seem like they’re on the skin’s surface).
If you have cystic acne (large pimples that are inflamed and feel “deeper” in the skin), the cause is almost always internal, such as certain drugs, vitamins, nutritional supplements, hormone therapies; a pro-inflammatory diet (processed foods and drinks); hormonal changes; stress; lack of sleep.
Or, you could be suffering from:
- Halogen acne: usually found around the mouth and chin. Halogens are chemicals found in some oral care and other products and foods. For more on this condition, see Acne/Rashes Around the Mouth/Chin: Peri-Oral Dermatitis
- Cosmetic acne: caused by comedogens or pore-clogging or irritating ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products
- Genetic acne
- Drug acne: caused by certain prescription drugs, vitamins, nutritional supplements or hormone therapy.
Note that if your acne is due to any of these causes, cleaning skin more may not provide adequate therapy.
To learn more about acne (what causes it and how to treat it) see:
Acne: What To Know
Acne/Rashes Around the Mouth/Chin: Peri-Oral Dermatitis
Acne: How Do I Effectively Treat It?
Acne On My Chest, Arms, Back and Body
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