Acne and Genetics

Is acne hereditary? While there isn’t a specific gene associated with acne, most experts would agree that acne and genetics are linked. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, so let’s take a closer look.

Is acne genetic?

We get this question a lot. The one-word answer is yes, acne is far more genetic than environmental. Acne genetics determine how your immune system responds to P. acnes bacteria, one of the root causes of acne. One person may develop only minor blackheads while another develops red and inflamed cystic breakouts. Genetics also play a role in how easily your pores clog. For example, you may have a hereditary tendency to overproduce dead skin cells and then shed them in a way that clogs your pores. When this leads to breakouts, you can think of it as genetic acne. Not your fault!

What makes the hereditary nature of acne so frustrating for so many of us is that acne genetics are unpredictable. Even in identical twins, one twin may get small pimples that last a week while the other develops cysts that permanently scar their skin. However, experts agree that if both of your parents had significant acne, your risk for developing hereditary acne is very high. It’s also possible that each parent can pass along a different acne type, which complicates things even further.

Of course, diet, environmental factors, personal hygiene habits, and hormones also influence acne. But the bottom line is your acne genetics may be the underlying reason for your breakouts and the type of acne you have.

Can you treat genetic acne?

Here’s the thing: You can’t control your genetics, but you can take charge of your lifestyle and personal habits. If acne runs in your family that doesn’t mean it will be with you for your entire life. It may, however, be a bit more challenging to control. Here are a few hereditary acne solutions to help keep breakouts at bay.

Don’t go crazy with your skincare routine

While it can be tempting to load up on products when your skin isn’t looking as great as you want it to, that’s only going to have a counterproductive result. The best skincare routine for genetic acne is simple yet effective and used consistently — like our Proactiv Solution original 3-step acne-treatment system.

When you’re searching for anything to put on your skin — from skincare to sunscreen to makeup — look for noncomedogenic products, which won’t clog pores or cause additional breakouts. Keep an eye out for salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, and sulfur as well. These are the fabulous four when it comes to acne-fighting ingredients: they lightly exfoliate, unclog pores, and treat and prevent breakouts. If you ever have any questions about which products to use and when, don’t hesitate to see a dermatologist.

Practice good hygiene

Along with consistently maintaining your skincare routine, here are other hygienic measures you can take:

  • Keep your hands away from your face (that means no popping or picking at pimples!) to reduce breakouts. Touching your skin spreads bacteria, dirt and oils and can clog pores even more.
  • Regularly change your sheets and pillowcases, which can accumulate dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and bacteria from your hair and body.
  • Pull your hair back away from your face when sleeping or working out.
  • Immediately remove tight, sweaty clothes and wash your face and body after you sweat or work out.

Manage your stress levels

Stress isn’t the root cause of acne, but it can definitely make it worse. While it may not always be easy, it’s important to manage your stress levels for your skin, as well as your overall health. When we’re stressed, our cortisol levels increase, causing the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. This can lead to clogged pores and the development of acne.

To make it easier, schedule in some you time for things like meditation, exercise, yoga, a relaxing bubble bath, or even a quick check-in with a friend — whatever brings you some peace or just a smile to your face.

Eat a clean diet

What you put on the inside reflects on the outside. Ditch the processed foods and refined sugar and carbs that may trigger acne and swap them out for clean foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. In other words, a healthy, balanced diet. It’s okay to enjoy yourself once in a while, but make an effort to eat nutritious foods most of the time. Greasy foods don’t cause acne (unless you’re rubbing them on your skin!) but foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugars may. Some people also find that dairy products cause acne flare-ups, so consider keeping a food journal to help link your breakouts to your diet.

See a dermatologist

If over-the-counter treatments aren’t working, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Along with a treatment plan, a doctor may provide a prescription for a topical treatment or pill with a higher level of active ingredients.

Don’t waste any time

If you start to get acne and you know it runs in your family, nip things in the bud by getting your breakouts under control with a simple yet effective skincare routine. Proactiv offers no-fuss regimens that effectively treat acne, like our Proactiv Solution 3-step system.

Our ProactivMD system includes a prescription-strength acne-fighting retinoid, no prescription necessary. It’s called Adapalene Gel, and it’s the first over-the-counter retinoid approved by the FDA — that prevents and treats breakouts while reducing the redness and inflammation associated with acne.

And of course, don’t overlook crucial lifestyle adjustments such as good hygiene, a healthy diet, and getting a hold of your stress levels. If you need specialized treatment, book an appointment with your dermatologist.