Let’s get real. Acne ruins the fresh-faced look in a hurry. Red, angry spots care little for your big beauty plans and often delight in showing up when they are least wanted. But knowing a little about how they got there and some skincare tips for prevention will put you in a better position to ward them off before they even think about forming.

Here’s what you should know.

Common acne causes to watch for

Bacteria is likely the acne culprit you are the most familiar with. Propionibacterium acnes, commonly shortened to P. acnes, only needs the right environment—such as bacteria trapped with skin cells in hair follicles—and the right triggers—such as dead skin cells that haven’t been flushed out of pores—in order for it to cause you trouble.

Another cause of acne is hormonal. When your hormones fluctuate, your body may respond by a rapid production of sebum, AKA, your skin’s natural moisturizing ingredient. And when your body overproduces sebum, it is easier for your pores to get clogged, which can trigger acne.

Aside from bacterial acne and hormonal acne is allergy-related acne. Some people find themselves breaking out as a response to foods, products, or something in the air. Certain medicines can also cause a triggering allergic effect, which may include acne woes.

Knowing what is causing your acne breakout will help you tailor your skincare routine to better suit your skin’s needs.

How to prevent bacterial acne breakouts

If your breakouts are caused by bacteria trapped in clogged pores, then one of the first steps is to flush out that cellular debris.

Skincare and beauty products that help include benzoyl peroxide, which targets acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic acid breaks down pore clogs as well as acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

A word about inflammation: Inflammation happens when the white blood cells begin to attack the build-up of bacteria, which results in a raised red bump. So that raised red bump, while ugly to look at, is actually your body’s immune system at work. But sometimes the body doesn’t know when to stop. And this is where anti-inflammatory foods and scrubs play a key role in keeping your skin cool, calm, and collected.

How to prevent hormonal acne breakouts

Hormonal acne is a little harder to treat because, on the surface, hormonal acne and bacterial acne can look awfully similar. However, there are some ways to tell them apart.

For instance, if you are no longer in your teen years, or you are going through a stressful time, or if the acne is concentrated around your chin or jawline, then chances are good you are dealing with hormonal acne.

Consult with your dermatologist and ask them for recommendations on how to deal. They might recommend a topical retinoid if your hormonal acne is moderate, or Accutane (a type of oral vitamin A) or birth control pills for severe hormonal acne.

How to prevent allergy-related acne breakouts 

Allergy-related breakouts are caused by surface irritants to your skin, or as an allergic reaction to something you ate. Finding out what caused the breakout is key in preventing it from occurring again.

Another approach you may want to try is to add a natural antihistamine into your diet. This will help you to be less inflammation-prone to various environmental elements that would otherwise trigger an allergic response.

Need a handy place to start? Quercetin is an antioxidant and a natural antihistamine that has been studied for its ability to help calm your skin’s allergic responses. Quercetin can be found in apples (with the skin) and grapefruit juice!

—Emma Jean

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