Men’s Acne: causes, prevention and treatments

Male Grooming

Acne is something that both men and women can get. It can occur at any point in your life, even if you have always had good skin before that. There are several reasons why acne can occur, and these can vary depending on the person.
But, for the most part, these causes can be treated.  

If you want to know more about acne in men and how to get rid of it, we have put together our guide to men’s acne.

What is Acne?

Acne is an incredibly common skin condition. Spots can happen to most people in their lives; however, acne is when the skin becomes covered in spots and oily patches. It can also leave your skin feeling hot or painful.  

Men can get acne in a variety of places on their bodies. This includes their face, their back and their chest. The face is the most commonplace that you will find acne occurring.

Acne is made up of 6 main types of spots. There are: 

  • Blackheads – these can be either small black or yellowish bumps 
  • Whiteheads – these look like blackheads; however, they are much firmer to the touch, and when you squeeze them, they will not empty entirely 
  • Papules – these are the type of spots that are small and red; they often feel sore to the touch 
  • Pustules – the same as papules, but these have a build-up of pus, which leads to a white head 
  • Nodules – these are larger lumps that are hard to the touch. They are usually beneath the skin and can be painful 
  • Cysts – these are the most severe of all the spot types. They look much like boils and are filled with pus. These types of spots can lead to scarring

What Causes Acne?

We all have tiny holes in our skin; these are our hair follicles. Most of the time, they are clear, but there are times when they can become blocked.  

The reason for this is due to our sebaceous glands; these are found near to the surface of your skin and are responsible for producing oils (sebum) that will attach to the growing hair and stop it from being too dry.  

If you have acne, this may be because the glands in your skin have produced too much sebum. This oily substance then mixes with any dead skin cells, plugging up the follicle hole.  

There are many reasons why your sebaceous glands might start to overproduce sebum. However, one of the most common ones is all down to testosterone. This chemical is present in men and women (although it is usually seen in women in smaller quantities).  

When your body picks up on increased levels of testosterone, then you may find that your glands produce more sebum than it needs.  

Some of the other reasons that acne can occur include: 

  • Genetic factors 
  • Certain medications (the most common are those that contain steroids, as well as those that are used to treat depression or bipolar disease) 
  • Wearing things that cause pressure on the skin, such as backpacks 
  • Smoking
Man treating acne

Male Acne: Why The Unaesthetic pimples?

Male acne usually occurs as early as adolescence, indeed, this is perhaps one of the most critical phases for skin conditions. On average, four out of five boys between the ages of 14 and 21 suffer from acne during adolescence.

You may be wondering why teens have to go through this. Isn’t adolescence a turbulent enough period, with the hormonal storms blowing?

Well, it is precise because of this hormonal storm, with all of its physiological changes, that the first pimples and blackheads appear.

Male acne usually disappears while growing up, but in severe cases, it can become a chronic condition. The occurrence of this condition is linked to a series of reasons.

Those can affect both the external and internal environment of the body. Pollution, stress, and in less fortunate cases, genetics are all possible causes.

The excessive use of cosmetic products – perhaps products of poor quality or with too many chemicals, could lead to the onset of pimples and blackheads.

We want to dispel the myth of chocolate. Recent studies have shown that there is no correlation between the consumption of chocolate and the onset of acne. But beware: this doesn’t mean that you can replenish yourself with chocolate or junk food as if nobody is watching. 😉

It has been studied that substances such as cortisone, brewer’s yeast and folic acid increase the risk of pimples and blackheads.

The good news. Researchers from the University of California along with Brandenburg Medical School in Germany are studying the right formulation to allow the production of specific antibodies in people suffering from acne.

Further reading on the medical research can be found HERE

Since this remedy is still in an entirely experimental phase, below, we’ll take a look at some of the cures already existing.

Male Teen Acne

As we have already mentioned, acne is a particular skin condition that in most cases occurs in adolescence. What we have not told you (but if you suffer from acne you most likely already know) is that, if left untreated, acne can leave nasty scars.

Juvenile acne can affect different parts of the body, such as the face, neck, chest, back, arms and even legs.

Although acne tends to disappear by the age of 30, it can persist into adulthood, or even disappear to then reappear later on during adult age.

Hormonal Changes Causing Acne

As mentioned before, the main causes of teenage acne lay in the hormonal shift. The hormones, which are responsible for the development of the sebaceous glands cause the onset of pimples and blackheads.

This is because there is excessive production of male hormones, stimulating the formation of sebum in the glands. This excessive production of sebum consequently becomes the trigger factor for juvenile male acne.

During puberty, the concentration of testosterone, a typically male hormone, increases in both men and women.

In males, the increase in testosterone results in the development of the penis and testicles, while in women, the muscle density increases – and the bones are strengthened. But all this excess testosterone also causes acne to appear.

Remedies For Teen Acne

Undoubtedly, one of the first remedies that we recommend is to take care of yourself, even at 15 years of age.

  • Work-out (it will lower testosterone levels, even if you work out twice a week)
  • Add some phytoestrogen to your diet. (it can be found in soya and legumes)
  • Take good care of your skin: adopt a correct skincare routine. (Be sure to use products for impure skin)

If the acne is light, you could use a face wash both in the morning and before bed. Keep skin hydrated with antioxidant and antiseptic oils such as calendula oil, tea tree oil or propolis. To reduce the risk of scarring, before face cream, use a natural face serum that does not contain any ingredients such as paraffin, which clogs the pores.

More aggressive forms of acne may require retinoids. Of course, in this case, you should see a doctor who can safely prescribe them.

Alternatively, there is also the anti-acne massage. Better known as anti-cellulite massage, this type of lymphatic drainage massage counteracts acne thanks to its action on the lymphatic circulatory system.

Adult Acne

We know that both men and women can suffer from acne starting from puberty up to adulthood. But why is it that in some cases, men tend to carry this annoying problem while women don’t?

The answer lies in the production of sebum: men produce more sebum after puberty, which is why they can have so-called “adult acne”.

The reason why men produce more sebum after puberty is related to the production of androgens. The male sebaceous gland has more receptors for androgens, so the two binds together, consequently producing more sebum.

Unlike adolescent acne, adult acne is limited only to certain parts of the body, such as the chin, jaw, and the area around the lips and back.

What Causes Adult Acne?

A study conducted in America has shown, by comparing the DNA of twins, that adult acne has a genetic aspect of familiarity that should not be underestimated.

No genetic mutations linked to acne have been found, but, rather bacterial resistance of the immune system, and excessive production of sebum and dead cells have been found. This means that if your parents or grandparents had acne it is highly likely you will too.

Another factor that could cause late acne onset is the use of certain medications, such as anabolic steroids.

Not only that, but a wrong diet can play its role as well. A high glycemic index will increase the likelihood of developing pimples and blackheads even if you are 40.

On top of this, stress is another huge factor. Although not directly the cause of acne, stress could worsen the problem due to variations in hormonal levels.

If the stress becomes chronic, the whole acne situation becomes complicated. Chronic stress increases cortisol levels in the body, inducing the overproduction of sebum.

REMEDIES For Adult Acne

A diet with too many refined carbs is an ally of acne, so the first piece of advice we want to give you is to adopt a healthy diet, rich in vitamins.

Exercising is very important. Muscle development normalizes blood glucose levels by automatically reducing the amount of insulin in circulation. This will have a more-than-beneficial effect on skin health.

Always use impure skin cleansers (if the acne is light) or specific products for acne-prone skin – but ensure anything you use is delicate, to avoid overstimulating the production of sebum.

Furthermore, to treat acne in adult men, products based on glycolic acid, citric acid, salicylic acid, and vitamin C are often used which, among other things, in addition to relieving the skin from the suffering that acne problems entail, also lend a great hand with wrinkles and crow’s feet.

In the case of more acute acne, you can resort to the use of retinoic acid cream: apply it as if it’s a beauty mask, in abundant quantities and leave it to act for at least 30 minutes before massaging.

The recommended cosmetic creams, in case of adult male acne, are those based on sebum-regulating and keratolytic active ingredients, such as salicylic acid

As for the scars left by acne, one could resort to fractional laser treatment – or bio-revitalization of the epidermal tissues. If you were a victim of acne in your teens and it left scars, we recommend that you ask your doctor for more information about these two procedures.

Skincare Routine For Acneic Skin

To set up a proper skincare routine for acne-prone skin, it is essential to understand what type of acne you suffer from. It is necessary to know if you suffer from adolescent or adult acne and what kind of rash this causes on your skin. Acne can manifest itself with comedones, pustules, cysts – and in the most severe cases (but also rare), skin ulcers. In this case, only surgery can help.

After identifying the type of acne you suffer from, a baseline for those with blemished or acne-prone skin is:

  • Use a specific scrub at least 2/3 times a week
  • Cleanse your face morning and evening
  • Use a good sulfur soap (it has astringent properties)
  • Sunbathing
  • DO NOT squeeze pimples (as tempting as you may be DON’T DO IT – it will make things worse)
  • Avoid touching your face, especially if you are out
  • Use steam to open pores then clean them properly following steam treatment
  • Use a good non-aggressive toner

How can you treat acne? 

Skincare routine

Like many skin conditions, there are plenty of things that you can do to try and treat acne. The treatment you should try for your acne will depend on how severe it is.  

If you have relatively low levels of acne, which are a few blackheads, whiteheads and spots, you can treat this at home.  

men acne treatments

However, if you have severe acne, which has not improved despite you having a dedicated skincare regime, then you are going to need to speak to your GP about any treatments that they can recommend or prescribe.  

If you prefer to try home remedies for your acne issues, then there are lots of different things that you can do. 

The first thing is to wash your face every single day properly. This simple act will remove any of those excess oils that can end up clogging your pores. You do need to be careful that you are not over-washing your face as then you will be stripping your skin of the natural sebum that it produces.  

This throws your skin out of whack and will tell the glands to make more sebum making the problems even worse.  

Skincare products for men’s acne

It is also important to remember to use a good quality moisturiser on your skin if you have acne. You don’t want your skin to become too dry, as this is when the sebum will increase. If you have acne, you may find that you have sensitive skin, which means that you need to avoid highly fragranced skincare products, as these can irritate your skin and leave it feeling sore and uncomfortable.  

The thing to focus on with skincare products is that the lower number of ingredients, then the better it is likely to be for your skin.  

You also want to aim to be as hydrated as possible. When you stay hydrated, you will find that your skin will be glowing and looking as healthy as possible. Not only this, but it will ensure that your body doesn’t think that it is dehydrated, which then leads to the skin producing more oils.  

acne routine for men

Sun exposure

One final tip to remember about acne is that if you try to reduce your sun exposure, you can also reduce your acne. Sure, spots can dry out with short-term exposure to the sun, but over time, or if this becomes frequent, then you are going to dehydrate your skin and leave it feeling dry and flaky.  

Acne can be uncomfortable and make you feel that your self-esteem has taken quite a hit. However, the good news is that you are likely to find a way to treat it and to stop it from happening in the future.  

You just need to learn your triggers and then think about which treatments will be suitable for your needs, and will give you the best results. 

FAQs

What causes acne in men?

Acne is caused by a combination of factors, including the overproduction of oil, clogged pores, and bacteria. Hormonal changes, genetics, and certain medications can also contribute to acne.

Is acne more common in men or women?

Acne is equally common in men and women, but it can be more severe in men due to higher levels of androgens (hormones that stimulate oil production).

Can diet affect acne in men?

Some studies suggest that a diet high in sugar, dairy, and processed foods may exacerbate acne in some people. However, more research is needed to confirm a direct link between diet and acne.

Are there any specific skincare products or medications that can help men with acne?

A variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinoids, can help with acne. It is important to consult with a dermatologist for personalized recommendations.

Can stress cause acne in men?

Stress can cause an increase in androgen hormones, which can lead to acne flare-ups.

Can shaving cause or worsen acne in men?

Shaving can irritate the skin, leading to acne or worsening existing acne. It is important to use a sharp razor and shaving cream or gel to minimize irritation.

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