Unknown female teenager with acne taking off medical mask

Why do teens get acne?


First, know that you didn’t do anything to cause your acne. There are factors outside of your control that cause acne.

Pimples begin deep down in the skin, where you can’t see them. First, oil and dead skin cells block the pore, creating a tiny acne blemish called a comedo. If bacteria invade, the follicle becomes red and swollen, and a pimple is formed.

There’s a species of bacteriaCutibacterium acnes—that causes pimples. These bacteria are normal residents of the skin, but people with acne tend to be more sensitive to them.

Hormonal Changes During Puberty

During the teen years, major hormonal changes occur within the body. These hormones, specifically androgen hormones, rev up oil production.

This explains why your skin is suddenly much more oily than it was when you were a little kid. And more oil means more pore blockages and more pimples.

For most teens, acne peaks between ages 14 and 19 and slowly gets better from there. That doesn’t mean you have to wait to outgrow acne. There are many medications you can use in the meantime to clear up your skin.


The propensity to develop acne is genetic, so if either of your parents had it, you are more likely to have it too.

Most people outgrow acne, but for some people, it can last well into adulthood. Some people even get acne for the very first time as adults.

Acne Myths

Now that you know the basic causes of acne, you should also know what doesn’t cause it. There are plenty of myths about what causes acne floating around.

And you don’t have to forgo chocolate or other sweets. Most doctors agree that junk foods aren’t the cause of your acne. A nutritious diet is important, but a few treats now and then aren’t going to cause pimples.

Touching your face doesn’t make you break out, either. But messing with existing pimples can make them worse, so definitely leave them alone to heal.


You don’t have to wait for acne to go away on its own. Teen acne can be cleared up if you get the right treatments.

First, start with an over-the-counter acne treatment from the store. Use these every day for a few weeks. Your skin won’t clear overnight, but after a few weeks, you should notice clearer skin.

If your acne isn’t getting better with store-bought products, you might need a prescription medication to get it under control. There are a number of medications available that do a great job.


Bacteria that get trapped in a skin pore may cause teen acne. The pimples are also more likely in people who are more sensitive to the bacteria or who have a genetic leaning toward acne. In most cases, acne will peak in your mid-teen years and then get better from there.


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