Oily Skin Prone To Acne – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What is Oily Skin Prone To Acne?

The oily skin is a major problem, leading to an excessive amount and degraded quality of sebum, which is the cause of the appearance of pimples and blackheads. Of course, before you self-diagnose yourself with oily skin, you have to make sure that your skin is actually oily!

These imperfections on the skin surface, as well as the increased greasiness, may also be associated with other skin diseases such as eczema, for example, making them more difficult to treat.

Acne is very common in teenage as it affects 80% of young people [1], but can also affect elderly men and women and acquire other specific forms. The psychological effect of the oily skin accompanied by acne is also important and it is necessary to take a proper approach to all patients in order to provide adequate treatment.

How to recognize oily skin?

Oily skin is typically characterized by a dense grained structure, enlarged pores, a greedy, slimy, and shiny appearance. This is due to the excess sebum, which is the cause of the appearance of skin imperfections such as blackheads or red pimples. The imperfections are localized mainly in the middle of the face: the forehead, nose, chin, better known as the T-zone. The rest of the face and body zones can be with normal or even dry skin.


Acne is an inflammatory disease of the oily follicle. Three factors cause acne:
Hypersebbhorrea (A symptom linked to excessive production of sebum by sebaceous glands, making skin shiny), hyperkeratosis (thickening of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis), often associated with the presence of an abnormal quantity of keratin ) and bacterial spread.


it corresponds to over-production of sebum as a result of hormonal activity that is triggered in puberty. The skin becomes oily and shiny. Furthermore, there is an additional risk of a qualitative change in sebum, that is, the composition of the sebum is no longer the same as in healthy skin.


Excessive cell multiplication from the walls of the follicular canal resulting in the formation of plugs that prevent the leakage of sebum. As a result, comedones that appear to be either skin-colored (comedones or microcircuits), give it a granular appearance or centered around a black dot (open comedone) corresponding to the presence of melanin (skin pigment) on the surface of a comedone.

Propagation of bacteria

Sebum is a perfect nutrient for certain bacteria, especially for Propionibacterium acnes (a gram-positive human skin commensal that prefers anaerobic growth conditions and is involved in the pathogenesis of acne), which is normally present in all individuals but which, when it comes to acne, multiplies in the fatty follicle and causes inflammation. Comedone becomes a painful red bud (an inflammation caused by oily skin)

Many types of lesions can be present in combination with oily skin, often causing increased seborrhoea (or hypersecretion):

Permanent lesions:

– Closed comedones or microcysts
– Open comedones or “blackheads”
– Large cysts (over 5 mm)

Inflammatory lesions:

– Inflammatory elements: pimples, pustules, nodules that result from inflammation of the permanent lesions above.

Possible signs of lesions:

– Secondary hyperpigmented spots, resulting from inflammation in matte or black skins.
The process may last for several years with inflammatory periods while the retention elements (comedones) improve in a certain period of life.

Who Can be affected?

Less commonly, oily skin, prone to acne may occur in a newborn (such condition may be related to androgenic hormones produced by the mother) or it can affect a child.

Newborn Acne
Acne neonatorum
Source: https://de.wikipedia.org

Acne is considered a skin disease of adolescence.

Figure 2: Representative facial image of a teen with visible acne.
Source: https://openi.nlm.nih.gov

There is a polymorphic aspect that combines different kinds of injuries together.
The process generally begins at the age of 12-14 years and affects the oiliest parts of the skin: the face and sometimes the chest and back. Acne is caused by an imbalance of hormonal secretion in puberty.
In women, especially after 30 years, acne occurs more in the lower part of the face (jaw) and the neck. Often there is a hormonal causality in addition to other causes of acne.


Usually, oily skin is marked by enlarged pores and shiny skin appearance. People with oily skin struggle with keeping shine down during the day, and usually feel the need to wash their face often than necessary.

What is specific about oily skin causing acne?

Various factors that contribute to the emergence of adult acne:

Applying inappropriate cosmetics, sun, food … Smoking also favors this phenomenon: over 41% of smokers have acne vs. 9% among non-smokers [2], according to the US National Library of Medicine.

Genetic factors can also be taken into account. In fact, if family history had these skin problems, they often appear in adult heirs.
Finally, some drug treatments such as oral contraceptives, hormones, and antidepressants increase skin greasiness and can also cause pimples.
Unlike the skin of a teenager, the adult’s skin produces less sebum. The imperfections concentrate mainly on the lower part of the face (chin, neck, lower jaw) and are characterized by chronic and recurrent inflammatory lesions (red spots) and sebum lesions (black spots).

In order to solve these skin problems, it is necessary to resort to adequate treatment other than the treatment applied to acne in adolescents.
The oily facial skin is usually thick and is accompanied by large pores which secrete the natural oils or sebum. The amount of secreted oil from the skin varies and is under the influence of

The amount of secreted oil from the skin varies and is under the influence of the hormonal and the nervous system. In this type of skin, the oil produced by the overactive sebaceous glands is too much.

The oil oozes and gives the skin a greasy shine. The oiliness of the skin also depends on the foods we eat, what we drink (e.g. soft drinks consumption greatly increases skin oil production [3]) and the environment where we live.
Oily facial skin can become a serious cosmetic problem when greasy secretions from the skin pores are being mixed with dust and dead epidermal cells.

The pores (tiny openings in the skin) clog and form the so-called blackheads, clog [4] and form the so-called blackheads, whiteheads and pimples on the face. The blackheads are observed mostly in adolescence when human skin is more oily than usual.

Oily skin prone to acne
Image of an 18 year old male with moderate acne vulgaris (white heads). His face appears to be very oily as well.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org

Over time, the hormones calm down and oily skin usually banishes. However, some people have more sensitive skin than others and oily skin can be preserved long after teenage years.

Predisposing factors

Oily skin is a very unpleasant issue that is often regarded as a cosmetic defect, but, it turns out, the reasons for such condition can be related to harmful lifestyle habits, e.g. unhealthy diet, smoking, drinking alcohol.

The good thing about skin oiliness is that it can hold the moisture in the epidermal cells and delay wrinkling of the skin. The excess oiliness of the skin is cosmetically very undesirable because it is causing blackheads excessive shine, acne, blocking pore as well as premature balding, hair loss, even in younger people.

Genetics – the condition is more likely to occur if someone of your family members also has oily skin

Diet –oily skin can be also caused by the consumption of unhealthy foods (e.g. burgers, snacks etc.)

People with oily skin often complain about gastrointestinal problems. If you suffer from constipation, especially long-term constipation, this is very likely to worsen the condition and the appearance of your skin.

  • Hormone levels – hormonal imbalance is one of the most common reasons for oily skin. Hormonal levels are higher during particular periods (puberty, pregnancy, menopause). According to MedlinePlus, „Hormonal changes that make the skin oilier. These may be related to puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy, birth control pills, or stress.”
  • Birth control pills – they can trigger excessive production of oil as the body tries to return skin oil levels back to normal.
  • Humidity or hot weather – weather that causes sweating and high humidity can also cause oily skins, as glands tend to excrete more oil.

Whatever the reason for such condition, you should be aware that oily skin can vary from a person to another, therefore it is very important for you to choose the most suitable treatment for your particular case.

One of the main factors that has a negative effect on this type of problem skin is poor nutrition. Patients are advised to focus on their eating habits. Starving is never a good choice, nor is overeating. Below are a few more tips people with oily skin should follow:

  1.  Eat regularly, 5 times a day, taking small portions!
  2.  Limit spices (pepper, mustard, vinegar)!
  3. Consume lean meats, instead of sausages!
  4. Try to avoid oil and butter!
  5. Salty, sharp and fried foods are annoying the sebaceous glands – try not to consume such foods!
  6. Sweets and coffee also help lubricate the skin of the face.
  7. Consume without limitation: fruits, vegetables, buckwheat, black bread, boiled or roasted fish.
  8.  Chocolate – it was thought that this product is contraindicated in people with oily skin, but after a number of studies scientists came to the conclusion that this was related to its excessive consumption. 20-30 grams of chocolate daily will not affect the sebaceous gland function at all.

People who have oily skin struggle during the hottest months. Sebaceous gland activity increases at high temperatures, glare and black spots (comedones) appear in the T-zone.

In order to avoid them, during the hot days take fresh leafy vegetables, cabbage, onion, lettuce, because these products reduce the production of sebum. Eat fresh fruits (except bananas): apples, pears, plums.

Home remedies

Oily facial skin requires special care. It is extremely important to keep good personal hygiene in order to prevent clogging of the pores and the formation of black/whiteheads and pimples on the face. It is essential to wash your face with warm water about 30-35 ° C at least once a day with mild baby soap.

For maintaining dry facial skin and reduce oiliness, apply face masks at least once a week. There are various face masks that ensure pores shrinking and limit the formations of black/whiteheads and pimples.

Facial masks for oily skin:

  1. Shred a carrot with a grater and apply on the face. This recipe is highly recommended for both oily and sagging skin with clogged pores.
  2. Mix 1 egg white with grated carrot, add some flour until you make a smooth mash. Apply mixture on your face and neck and leave it on for 15-20min.
  3. Make a banana mash and add to it some raw lemon juice. Add a tea spoon of cornstarch and apply the mixture on your face and neck. Leave it on for 15 minutes, after that wash your face with lukewarm water.
  4. Beat an egg white until stiff and add 1 tbsp white clay which is already diluted in some water. Mix the ingredients carefully and apply a thick layer on your face. 20 minutes later wash your face with warm water
  5. You can also make a homemade face toner by diluting some apple cider vinegar in water until you reach the most appropriate consistency for your skin (the apple cider vinegar should not provoke any skin irritation, including redness or rash). Apply the toner on your face and neck at least twice a week
  6. Mix the following ingredients: ½ cup of mashed apple, ½ cup of cooked oatmeal, 1 beaten egg white and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into a smooth paste. Apply on the face and let it dry (it will take about 15-20 minutes). Wash your face with cool water
  7. Prepare a honey face mask: make sure you are using pure raw honey. Add to it some fresh lemon juice (couple drops)and apply the mask3 times a week for at least 30 minutes. The ingredients work miracles for excessive oily skin but honey also works great for reducing the appearanceof pimples, scars and hyperpigmentation.
  8. Face steam at home: while steaming the face, it softens, loosens pores and allows for extraction of blackheads, whiteheads and pimples from the surface of the skin by releasing them from follicular openings.This procedure triggers blood vessels in the skin to dilate so that more blood can flow into the skin, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tissue. Face steaming encourages the pores to clean from within, eliminating the toxins available. Recommended steaming time is about 10 minutes at least once a week.
  9.  Dissolve 5 or 6 uncoated Aspirin [5] tablets with enough water to make a thick paste and mix it with honey and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes. Wash face with cold water in order to close the pores and reduce their sizes.
  10.  It may seem very extreme but urine [6] works miracles for acne. Just soak some urine on a cotton pad and apply on your face. The anti-bacterial and antifungal properties of urine will clear up acne, eczema, and other bothersome skin conditions. Benefits of urea—the main active ingredient in urine—have been well-established for coping with sensitive problematic skin. Urine will clear up acne, eczema, and other bothersome skin conditions. Benefits of urea [7] —the main active ingredient in urine—have been well-established for coping with sensitive problematic skin.

Oily facial skin requires a specific diet [8]. If you are prone to oily skin, it would be better for you to avoid particular foods:

dairy products, products with added sugar, fatty meals, salty snacks, enriched cereals, bread, baked foods and pasta[10].

Skin-friendly diets consist of limiting certain foods and beverages.

Basically, you need to beware of bakery and sweet products. It is highly recommended to consume vitamin-rich foods – fruits and vegetables and not eating greasy meat.
Beware when using cosmetic products for the reduction of skin greasiness.

Some of them are extremely strong and lead to excessive dryness and even skin flaking.

Oily skin needs vitamins

  • Vitamin C boosts the immunity and unifies the skin tone. Vitamin C is available in many fruits and vegetables: apricots, apples, cabbage, black currant, rosehip, peaches, parsley apple, oranges, peppers. Keep in mind that is destroyed by oxygen, heat (above 70 degrees) and it leaks out into the cooking water because it is a water-soluble vitamin.
  • B vitamins (B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine) neutralize toxins, help maintain fresh and clean skin Products: eggs, beef, legumes, beans, carrots, tomatoes, dried Apricots, and other dried fruit.
  • Vitamin E regulates the nourishment of the skin, as well as the content of water and fat in it, helps in the removal of scars, improves blood clotting, stimulates wound healing. It is available in vegetable oils, wheat, egg yolk, milk, liver, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocados.


  1. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Acne/acne_ff.asp
    What Is Acne?
    Fast Facts: An Easy-to-Read Series of Publications for the PublicRelationship between Nutritional Status and Facial Sebum Content
  2.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835905/
    Acne and smoking
  3. https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/health/article/2000058166/adjust-your-diet-to-treat-acne
    Adjust your diet to treat acne
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26918966                                                                           Facial Pores: Definition, Causes, and Treatment Options.
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4693360/                                                           Aspirin in dermatology: Revisited
  6. http://www.acne.org/urine-therapy-reviews-524/
    Urine treatment for oily skin prone to acne
  7. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/urea                                                                         Urea
  8. http://www.jdsjournal.com/article/S0923-1811(07)00363-5/abstract
    The effect of a low glycemic load diet on acne vulgaris and the fatty acid composition of skin surface triglyceride

About the author

Monika Hristova

Monika is the Editor-in-Chief at SkinPractice. She is a skin care addict and researcher, who feels strongly about helping people with different dermatology conditions from alopecia to warts.

You can read her recommendations and advice both here at SkinPractice or at Quora where she answers skincare-related questions frequently and is the most viewed author in the Skincare category with more than 3 million views or follow her on LinkedIn.

She is also a certified skin care specialist with certification from the Medical College in Sofia.

Add comment

Recent Posts