Environment and Acne

There are number of environmental factors that can cause acne, including pollution and exposure to oil and grease, which may clog pores and lead to pimples. The weather can also have an affect on the skin. Heat and humidity, which increase oil production, are renowned acne triggers and even cold weather can stress the skin and cause breakouts. How? In winter months, wind and low humidity levels can cause surface dehydration. When the skin’s moisture is not replaced its defense is to produce more oil, which can lead to clogged pores and acne flare-ups.

As the body’s largest and most visible organ, one of the skin’s main functions is to protect us from harmful substances. Strong environmental pollutants can cause a number of skin problems, including a rare variation of acne called chloracne, which is characterized by acne-like eruptions of blackheads, whiteheads, cysts and pustules. Chloracne is different from acne vulgaris – the most common type of acne – because it’s not caused by hormones or genetics.

The sun is another environmental factor that can cause acne. It may seem like small amounts of sun exposure help your acne because the blue band of visible light helps to sterilize the p. acnes bacteria and a suntan masks redness. However, prolonged sun exposure increases the shedding of dead cells on your skin’s surface. This causes plugged pores, which eventually become blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. Heavy sunblocks can also be an acne culprit as they are occlusive, meaning they form a film on the skin. Occlusive sunblocks can increase the temperature inside your hair follicles, creating small pimple-like bumps. These bumps are not true acne but a medical condition called miliaria, which is especially common on the torso during the hot, humid summer months.

Avoidance of prolonged sun exposure, along with daily use of a lightweight, noncomedogenic sunscreen formulated for acne-prone skin like the Proactiv+ Liquid SPF Sunscreen, is best for protecting your skin and minimizing breakouts.