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Acne - What Increases Your Risk

The tendency to develop acne runs in families. You are more likely to develop severe acne if your parents had severe acne.

The risk of developing acne is highest during the teen and young adult years. These are the years when hormones such as testosterone are increasing. Women who are at the age of menstruation also are more likely to develop acne. Many women have acne flare-ups in the days just before their menstrual periods.

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You Asked! Expert A's to Your Beauty Q's: Acne and Rosacea Products

Lindsey Emery, a freelance editor in Portland, Ore., asked about her bumpy skin. We passed her question on to Julie Harper, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Paul M. Friedman, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Texas, Houston, and author of Beautiful Skin Revealed: The Ultimate Guide to Better Skin. Q: I've noticed small red bumps on my face, jawline, and neck. Could it be rosacea? Or is it acne? ...

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Acne can be irritated or made worse by:

  • Wearing straps or other tight-fitting items that rub against the skin (such as a football player wearing shoulder pads), as well as using equipment that rubs against the body (such as a violin held between the cheek and shoulder). Helmets, bra straps, headbands, and turtleneck sweaters also may cause acne to get worse.
  • Using skin and hair care products that contain irritating substances.
  • Washing the face too often or scrubbing the face too hard. Using harsh soaps or very hot water can also cause acne to get worse.
  • Experiencing a lot of stress.
  • Touching the face a lot.
  • Sweating a lot.
  • Having hair hanging in the face, which can cause the skin to be oilier.
  • Taking certain medicines, such as corticosteroids, some barbiturates, or lithium.
  • Working with oils and harsh chemicals on a regular basis.

Athletes or bodybuilders who take anabolic steroids are also at risk for getting acne.1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 17, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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