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This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Tatiana Aynbinder.

Adult acne is quite a common issue that affects many people, and for some, it's the first time they start to get acne breakouts. Let's first look at some of the main culprits for sudden breakouts and what proactive measures you can take to control them.

Five reasons why your skin may suddenly be breaking out, and the solutions to combat the situation.

1. Hormones:

Hormonal fluctuation is one of the biggest factors wreaking havoc to your skin complexion. Hormones like estrogen, progesterones, and testosterone are the culprits. These hormones are affected by starting and stopping birth control, and by pregnancy. Typically, during your teenage years, a lot of hormonal fluctuation occurs as girls go through puberty and start getting their periods. However, especially in women, hormonal changes don't just stop after adolescence. Menstrual cycles, birth control, pregnancy and even menopause may all cause hormones to fluctuate. It’s not uncommon for women to suddenly get acne even after their childbearing years.

How do hormones lead to sudden acne breakouts? Androgens (a group of male sex hormones like testosterone) can cause excess sebum production in your skin. If your hormones are imbalanced with the female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, this will lead to your body overproducing oil in your skin cells.

For some people, birth control can increase the female hormones like estrogen and a form of synthetic progesterone to balance out the production of male hormones like androgen. Breakouts can be reduced by calming down the excess oil production that would have surged without the female hormones controlling it.

Although birth control helps calm breakouts for many, for others it can do the opposite, causing sudden breakouts after you start taking it. Since everyone's skin type and body chemistry is different, there is no “one size fits all” approach to controlling acne. Usually, if you were acne-prone before, taking birth control (“the pill”) can help, but if you were someone who didn't break out before starting birth control, hormonal changes could cause some new skin issues.

For those women that get acne breakouts from using their birth control, here is a useful tip: a week before your period, start preparing your skin by using more products that include acne fighting and preventive ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide in washes, facial pads or topical creams. If you already use them, maybe using higher concentrations in that week will help. These washes can also exfoliate your skin so that oil, dirt, and debris don't get stuck in clogged pores with an increase in excess production of oil. By going on the offense a week before your time of the month, you can lessen your chances of getting acne breakouts.

Masking and drying up your skin a week before your period can be very helpful. Try anti-acne salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, retinoids exfoliation, exfoliating toner and cleansing clay mask.

2. Stress is a significant factor contributing to sudden breakouts.

As we discussed earlier, hormonal fluctuations are one of the main culprits leading to breakouts. When we are stressed, we release cortisol hormones. A surge in testosterone causes your oil glands to produce more, elevating your risk for bacterial infection to occur in your skin pores, causing pimples to form. Of course, when you start breaking out, the emotional toll it can take on your self-confidence can lead to more stress, which then continues the process of breakouts from the surge in cortisol that your body continues to produce (a “feedback loop”).

Lower the stress level of your life as much as possible. Exercise, yoga, meditation and breathing awareness are all great tools to reduce stress. Strenuous exercise is especially effective at breaking down cortisol in the bloodstream. Even moderate exercise releases endorphins and serotonin which lessens your levels of stress hormones. Additionally, you can sweat out impurities and excess oil - just make sure to cleanse and wash your skin properly post workout.

It's important to take steps to control your stress. Meditating and calming your breath down are proven ways of relaxing your mind and body, keeping you from going into stress mode. Try taking the right measures to calm yourself down, especially in moments when you are overly stressed. If you know you will be in a position to be stressed, this is the best time to work out and take care of yourself, take baths, massages, listen to calming music - whatever works best for you. With time and practice, we can get control of reactivity and triggers, helping to avoid moments of emotional overload. These are good techniques and habits to have and practice for life in general.

3. You are using the wrong products:

It's important to pay close attention to the ingredients in your skin care products. The products should be fragrance-free and noncomedogenic. It's critical to know your skin type and learn which products work best for you. For people going through hormonal fluctuations, acidic skin products with active ingredients like both Salicylic and Glycolic Acid are great topical solutions to break down oil in clogged pores. Using beta hydroxy acid (salicylic) or combination peels containing salicylic acid helps to bring blackheads to the surface, unclogging your pores by dissolving impurities. These work very efficiently to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells inside pores as well as on the surface of the skin. Salicylic acid is anti-inflammatory as well - a chemical cousin of aspirin, it helps to reduce the redness of acne.

By consistently using these acids in your cleansers, scrubs, facial pads or prescriptive topical creams/lotions, you will prevent the blackheads before they form, and clear existing pores. Also, glycolic acid, (alpha hydroxy acid) helps clear dead skin and debris on the surface. In tandem, these two acids pair well to unclog and exfoliate the skin.

If you start breaking out, check if you're using any new products that you may have added to your skin care regimen. One useful tip in trying to identify if a skincare product might be at the root of your breakouts is to pay attention to where your skin is suddenly breaking out. If you usually tend to get acne in a particular area of your face, and suddenly, with the addition of a new product, your breakouts appear elsewhere, then there is a good chance that it might be the new product causing your pimples. Since everyone's skin is different, some products will not work well with every skin type. If you assume, it might be your new product then stop using it for a period and see if your acne breakouts subside. If your sudden attack of pimples calms down and starts to go away, then stop using that particular product.

Also, notice what ingredients are in that particular product which may be unique from what you typically use. If you can find out what specifically was the main culprit in that product, then you can avoid using a similar type of product in the future.

It's important to assess what skin type you have to choose the right at-home skin care protocol. If you have the ance-prone skin, you should not be using creams like heavy moisturizers which are for more mature skin types. By paying close attention to the right ingredients that don't break you out and educating yourself on the right treatments which work best for your skin, you can avoid future breakouts. Knowing what products work best for your skin may take trial and error.

4. Diet

Certain types of foods have been studied and are known to cause inflammation to build in your body and skin. This occurs with foods high on the glycemic index, high in sugars and carbohydrates that spike your insulin levels. Sugar and foods high on the glycemic index (meaning foods that, once ingested, convert quickly into glucose and cause your body's insulin levels to elevate) lead to a burst of inflammation that goes throughout your entire body and skin. Foods high in sugar and saturated fats - like white bread, candy, fried foods, ice cream, sodas, and anything else with a main ingredient of sugar - cause spikes in your body's insulin levels that further exacerbate inflammation. Steep insulin spikes increase the production of skin oils and contribute to the clogging of follicles, which can worsen skin complexion. Also, foods high in the glycemic index can raise your body's androgen levels, which again affects your hormonal fluctuation levels, exacerbating acne breakouts.

5. Environmental Factors

Other environmental factors can contribute to acne breakouts. Changing your laundry detergent or cleanser and not washing your pillow sheets often enough can affect your complexion. Talking on your phone for extended periods of time without cleaning it allows for lots of bacteria and excess oil production to be secreted on your phone, especially if you speak for long periods.

Weather change may require adjusting your regimen. In hotter or colder weather, your skin would need to acclimate with the proper skin care products to help keep well balanced, so it's not too oily but not over drying. Also, the quality of air matters a great deal for skin complexion. If you are somewhere where there is lots dirt and grit in the air, it's more likes that your pores can get clogged with these dirt particles. If you're in such an area, then it's important to take cleansing washes with you, to cleanse your skin throughout the day. Once home it's important not to skip your thorough cleansing regimen that should include exfoliation. This way any residual grind from the day is completely removed.

Although there is no one cure-all for these skin issues, it's crucial to be proactive. Become knowledgeable about the various ways in which sudden breakouts can occur, and do a checklist of what the possible reasons can be. Then adjust for them with the proper tools and methods. See what works best with your skin to find the right solutions for your particular problem. If your breakouts are not getting better or are getting worse, it's always an excellent idea to see a trusted dermatologist. A physician can best assess your skin type, and also diagnose your skin to see what may be the main culprit behind your acne. Sometimes multiple factors can be at play, and a multifaceted, comprehensive approach is needed to treat the different causes. It's critical to be cautious, attentive and quick in being proactive to diagnose the issue, correct and control the active acne, and then maintain preventative measures to keep the skin balanced and healthy.

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