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What Makes Acne Worse
Understanding Things To Avoid

acne worse

What Makes Acne Worse? Is your acne getting worse despite treatment and all the care in the world? You may find out that taking care to eliminate certain things that worsens acne and cause breakouts could be the answer.

Understanding what makes acne worse is a very important step in controlling your acne. Find the list of things that worsen acne here, from foods, pills, cosmetics, to jobs. Empower yourself to get rid of your acne now.

Increase in normal hormone levels associated with puberty, genetic predisposition and certain times around the menstrual period in a woman are common causes that triggers acne. These are causes that you have no power over.

The good news though, is that there are other factors or things that aggravates acne that you can control or get rid of. They include certain foods, medicines, products and behaviours. Let's take a look at the list of things that can worsen acne and how to avoid them for a good looking you.

Foods That Worsen Acne

Some old sources still teach that food does not worsen acne. That used to be the belief in the medical community until 2011. Now, recent medical evidence abound to show a very strong association between foods and acne. Yes. Certain foods could be making your acne worse. They include:

  • Milk and Dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Groundnuts
  • Pork meat
  • Certain cooking oils like groundnut oil, (peanut oil)
  • Kelp and seaweed product
  • Iodised salt
  • Refined foods and food rich in high amount of fats and fine sugar
  • ... And more.

If you think a certain food may be causing your acne, avoid it. Go for whole foods. Avoid refined foods and foods rich in high fat and carbohydrate content.

Medicines That Make Acne Worse

There are a whole list of medications that can make your acne worse and cause breakouts. They include:

  • Contraceptive pills like the mini-pills or progesterone only pills
  • Steroids (including bethametasone, hydrocortisone, danazol and stanozolol, used as anabolic stroids)
  • Lithium
  • Thiouracil
  • phenytoin
  • Isoniazid
  • Quinine
  • Disulfuram
  • Chloral
  • Vitamin B

Some of these drugs or medicines stimulate the sebaceous gland in the skin to produce excess sebum and cause blockade of the acne pores, leading to breakouts. If you are on any of the above medications, or related medications, you can discuss with your doctor to find out if they could be what is making your acne worse.


Use of very oily cosmetics - thick and greasy make -up or body lotion or face cream may make your acne worse. In western world, most cosmetics sold are now labelled comedogenic (those that can cause or worsen acne) and non-comedogenic (light oil free products) that would not cause acne. Always look at the label and small print on the body of your cosmetic before buying.

Same holds true for the use of very greasy hair creams and ointments. If you notice that your acne is severe, and you use hair lotions and creams that are oily, stopping this may help.

Menstrual Cycle

As mentioned above, acne tends to be worse around the 2nd to the 7th day before the onset of menstruation or periods, because of the increase in hormones. If you suspect that menstruation is one of what makes acne worse for you, washing your face no more than twice a day with a mild cleanser and applying a low strength benzoyl peroxide (2.5 % gel) or duac gel in the preceding week before your period may help.


Sweating heavily can worsen acne. This is because your sweat glands gets blocked by heavy sweating, leading to acne formation. If you live in a hot humid weather, dressing light to avoid heavy sweating, washing with cold water and drinking lots of water would help.

Picking And Squeezing

If you pick or squeeze your pimples or acne, this leads to further blockade of the sebaceous gland pore, leading to formation of comedons and inflammation or redness and eventually scaring. Avoid picking your acne as this worsens it.


What makes acne worse more than stress? That was the first question I was asked when I first gave this lecture a few years ago. True, stress in many different forms causes breakout of pimples and acne and could in fact make an already bad acne worse. The stress could come in many forms, from the thought of going for an interview, preparing for exams, just before your wedding, or from the general stresses of life.


Jobs causing or making acne worse? Yes. Certain jobs or types of employment could make you more likely to have breakouts and more acne. Such jobs include working with petroleum products, motor or automobile mechanics, hair dressers, or working with oily fumes and chemicals.

Do you suspecting that your job could be worsening your acne? Avoid direct contact with oil and oily fumes and chemical as much as possible.

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