Four Reasons Why You Are Breaking Out

Written by Dr. Stephanie Fairborn, ND

More women than ever are breaking out. Acne is a multifaceted condition that can be broken down to four reasons for breaking out. These four causes can be influenced by a variety of different reasons, such as lifestyle, hormones, gut health, stress, etc. Luckily with the right support you can optimize these areas and create an environment for your skin to clear and thrive. Let me take you through the four reasons you are breaking out:



Sebum production or also known as an increase in oil production on the skin, is a huge factor that plays into the health of our skin. An increase of oil will cause clogged pores and therefore creating an environment that is primed to break out. You’re probably asking why some of us produce more oil on our skin than others and here are some factors to consider:

  • Hormone Imbalances – Elevated androgens levels (think testosterone) have been shown to increase sebum production on our skin. Understanding our hormone levels and promoting hormone balance is key for having healthy, clear skin.
  • Lifestyle – Certain foods (eg. dairy, sugar, etc) have been shown to increase IGF-1 (insulin growth factor-1) levels. This increase results in an overproduction of sebum production in our skin. Therefore avoiding these foods or consuming them in moderation can be super beneficial for clearing our skin.
  • Omega 3s- They have been shown in research to help reduction sebum production in our skin. This could be a great addition to our supplement routine, but always remembering that adding in new products is something that should be discussed with your healthcare practitioner.


Follicular Hyperkeratinization means that your skin isn’t shedding properly. There is a build up of skin and therefore pores are once again getting clogged and creating the perfect storm for break outs. Once a pore is blocked the bacteria, P. Acnes, has the opportunity to proliferate and result in acne lesions. Ways to reduce follicular hyperkeratinization:

  • Sweating – Regular sweating can help to support the clearing of pores and appropriate skin shedding. Also, it is important that you shower after workouts/movement to make sure to reduce any bacterial overgrowth on your skin
  • Omega 3s – Adding into routine has been shown to be beneficial to promoting healthy skin shedding
  • Salicylic Acid – Typically found in many conventional topical products and has been shown to reduce follicular hyperkeratinization


P. Acnes Bacteria, the regularly occurring, ever present bacteria, on your skin that helps to produce acne. When you pair P. Acnes with any of the other three issues listed, you have the perfect environment for your skin to break out. We want to reduce the proliferation of the P. Acnes bacteria on the skin. You can do this by:

  • Probiotics- they have been shown to be able to shift the skin microbiome and support the modulation of the P.Acnes bacteria
  • Do not pick your skin- When breaking out, we have a tendency to want to pick our acne lesions and therefore this can lead to the spread of bacteria and result in more acne. We should be trying our best to not touch our skin throughout the day to prevent contamination.


Inflammation is key when we are talking about acne. Inflammation can arise from a variety of ways, and therefore managing inflammation is essential for clear skin. Assessing our diet, hormones, gut health and stress levels are important when we are investigating inflammatory levels. Ways to reduce inflammation:

  • Whole Foods Diet- Focusing on consuming clean, whole foods on a regular basis can do wonders for your skin, especially when eliminating certain foods that have been shown to cause acne
  • Stress Reduction- We know that stress can impact our skin, so its important to address with adaptogens, build resilience and strong coping mechanisms such as meditation, journalling and self-care to lower stress levels
  • Supplements- Specific supplements have been shown to reduce inflammatory levels, such products are: NAC, Curcumin, Zinc, Omega 3s, Probiotics, etc. It’s important that these supplements should not be started on their own and you should be working with a health professional before starting something new.


It is important to note that you can have all of the listed reasons above or just a few, but they all create the perfect environment for you to break out. Addressing each of these triggers individually, as well as together, is important for supporting the health of your skin. Working to reduce foods that cause acne, balancing your hormones, healing your gut and building a healthy lifestyle are all integral for clearing your skin.

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Four Reasons Why You Are Breaking Out was last modified: November 1st, 2021 by OMA Chiropractic
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