When Acne Is All in the Family

There's no "clear skin gene," but the tendency for breakouts can be genetic

Three generations of women cooking together in kitchenProfile of senior couple forecasting the way forward for future finance and investmentClose up of baby grabbing feetEarthquake Survivors Undertake Rehabilitation At Sichuan Provincial PeopleThe Women of Standing Rock ReservationThe Women of Standing Rock ReservationThe Women of Standing Rock ReservationNepal Plane CrashRelatives Gather at Oklahoma City Bombing MemorialNew York Farm Offers Horseriding Therapy For PTSD SufferersFor Some Returning US Troops, PTSD Is The New BattlefieldFor Some Returning US Troops, PTSD Is The New BattlefieldIraq War Vet Struggles With PTSDFort Hamilton Soldiers Attend PTSD ScreeningU.S. War Veteran And Family Cope With Post Traumatic Stress DisorderU.S. War Veteran And Family Cope With Post Traumatic Stress DisorderStormy Weather To Hit The UKMichael Jackson Court Case ContinuesMichael Jackson Court Case ContinuesWoman in nightclub throwing beverage in man's faceCrowds Flock To Notting Hill For 2011 CarnivalCrowds Flock To Notting Hill For 2011 Carnival23rd Anniversary Of 1993 WTC Bombing Commemorated At 9/11 MemorialVermont Battles With Deadly Heroin EpidemicVermont Battles With Deadly Heroin Epidemic Getty Images Teenage girl checking skin in bathroom mirror : Stock Photo Embed Share Comp Add to Board Teenage girl checking skin in bathroom mirror
  Image Source/Getty Images

You wash your face religiously with a gentle cleanser and keep the number of products you use on your skin to a bare minimum. In fact, you could be the poster child for perfect anti-acne skin care. And yet you can't quite seem to keep blemishes at bay. What could you be doing wrong?

In all likelihood, you're doing nothing wrong. It could be that your breakouts aren't the result of your lifestyle, but rather a product of your genetic makeup.

Is There an Acne "Gene?"

In a word, no. But there definitely is a tendency for acne to run in families. If either (or both) of your parents are acne-prone, that may be one reason you are as well. Some studies have shown a person's likelihood of developing acne if her mother had acne at any point in her life is especially high. This suggests that the propensity for developing acne may be passed down through the X chromosome.

Even so, there are many other factors that contribute to acne besides family history, such as fluctuations in hormones (during puberty and even later in life, during menopause), cosmetics, and even stress. And that's good news, because it means that even though you weren't able to choose the DNA you inherited from your parents, you can choose how to care for the skin you were dealt in order to keep it as blemish-free as possible.

Zapping Zits 

If acne runs in your family, this doesn't mean you're facing a lifetime of blemishes and breakouts. But if you do, you may find they're tougher to treat than someone else's. Be realistic about this, and then do all you can to help ward off breakouts and clear up blemishes:

  • Revisit your routine. Make sure you truly are washing your face with a cleanser that's right for you. Your best guidance here: a dermatologist, who not only can recommend products but also techniques for getting your skin clean without over-scrubbing or traumatizing it.
  • Read labels. There is a dizzying array of over-the-counter acne treatments. The ones likely to work best will include at least one of these ingredients: salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, glycolic acid. 
  • Look for the word "noncomedogenic" on makeup and other products you put on your skin. This means formulated to not clog pores or provoke pimples.
  • Don't delay. If acne, especially severe acne, runs in your family and you start to get blemishes, treat them right away. It's easier to get breakouts under control when they're relatively mild, rather than waiting until pimples become is stubbornly inflamed.
  • See a doctor. OTC products can be very effective for mild blemishes, but if your acne becomes severe you may need a  prescription medication. Head back to your dermatologist. He'll be able to put together a treatment plan that will work to clear up your skin.
    Was this page helpful?
    Article Sources
    • Bhate K, Tan JK. "A Global Perspective on the Epidemiology of Acne." British Journal of Dermatology. 172.1 (2015): 3-12.
    • Bhate K, Williams HC. "Epidemiology of Acne Vulgaris." British Journal of Dermatology. 168.3 (2013): 474-485.
    • Ballanger F, Baudry P, N’Guyen JM, Khammari A, Dreno B. “Heredity: A Prognostic Factor for Acne.” Dermatology. 2006; 212:145-149.
    • Zahra Ghodsi, Orawa H, Zouboulis CC. “Prevalence, Severity, and Severity Risk Factors of Acne In High School Pupils: a Community Based Study.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Mar 12, 2009.