Why am I suddenly breaking out?

You religiously lather up in your favorite facial cleanser morning and night, and have mastered a fool-proof skincare regimen to keep your complexion clear and healthy. So why then, are you suddenly breaking out?

Acne occurs when dead skin and oil clog your hair follicles. Unwelcomed whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts can pop up at any time, even if you think you have things under control. Whiteheads and blackheads (also known as comedones) form when a hair follicle becomes clogged with dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. Papules are comedones that become inflamed creating small bumps on your skin, whereas pustules are inflamed and typically filled with yellow pus. Nodules present as bumps that are hard to touch, and cysts are a severe form of acne resembling pus-filled lesions. It’s important to find out what type of acne you have and what’s causing them to appropriately get rid of it – for good.

What causes sudden acne breakouts?

There are many different reasons you can be breaking out, with stress being the most common. Other triggers can include smoking, medications, and genetic predisposition. Take a second to take a step back from your magnified mirror and reflect on some of the main breakout causes to see which might be causing your sudden breakouts. Luckily for you, there are ways to prevent them and solutions for helping to clear acne.


Dealing with a sudden breakout can be very stressful, but did you know that stress could be the actual cause of them in the first place? When you’re stressed, your body produces excess cortisol and other hormones. These "stress hormones" trigger your oil glands to produce more oil, and this excess oil clogs your pores. Chronic stress can make breakouts even worse.


Reducing stress is the name of the game. It’s best to incorporate regular practices into your daily routine to keep the triggers of stress away. Try exercising for at least 30 minutes, breathing exercises or meditation, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

Dietary changes

Have you changed your diet lately? If so, and you’re now asking yourself, why am I suddenly breaking out, then looking at your diet is a good place to start.


Concentrate on eating whole foods that focus on fighting inflammation like berries and fatty fish, and avoiding foods that cause inflammation like processed foods, red meat, dairy, and sugar.

Dirty pillowcases

We hate to tell you this, but feel it’s obligatory in an article that discusses acne – your sheets are crawling with bugs and germs. Dust mites, bacteria, dead skin cells, and fungi are just some of what could be living on your pillowcase and can easily clog your pores and cause sudden breakouts.


Wash your sheets! It’s a simple fix, but between taking the actual time to do it and wrestling to get your annoying fitted sheet back on makes it quite the chore. Experts say you should wash your sheets weekly in hot water and dry them on high if possible to disinfect and sanitize them.


This one’s tricky to figure out and you might need the help of your dermatologist to pinpoint your levels through blood work. If your estrogen levels are high, androgens like testosterone increase sebum production, which leads to clogged pores.


There’s not much you can do as a quick fix to prevent your hormones from making you suddenly break out. The best thing you can do is try to keep your hormones regulated with the help of a doctor. If it’s your period, or you’re going through perimenopause or menopause, your breakouts will be expected. In that case, having a treatment plan in place will help you deal with them.

Treatment for sudden acne breakouts

Depending on the type of acne you have, pimples can last a long time. Looking to get rid of a sudden breakout before a big event or say… tomorrow (wishful thinking)? There are things you can do to help your skin heal, but the number one ingredient is patience.

Begin using active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid. Benzoyl peroxide is commonly recommended by dermatologist to treat acne. It acts as an effective antibacterial treatment that delivers oxygen into your pores unclogging them and killing bacteria. Salicylic acid acts as an exfoliant and promotes the shedding of dead skin cells. Try using one of our three-step systems. They’re formulated to work together to treat and prevent sudden breakouts. Begin using your system of choice morning and night, and whatever you do – don’t pick your skin, and don’t give up!

The takeaway

There are many reasons you might be facing a sudden breakout. Remember to keep your pillowcases clean and pay attention to your wellness, including exercise, sleep, stress reduction, and what you eat. If you’re unable to figure out why you’re suddenly breaking out on your own, consult your dermatologist for a personalized approach to a clear complexion.