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Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

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Is Acne Hereditary?

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

Growing up as a kid, did you have severe acne? What about mild acne? Are you worried about your children getting acne? Worried they will go through the same struggles with it like you did? This is a common concern among parents. Growing up with acne can be really tough and in extreme cases, even cause teens to go through depression. It is perfectly natural to want to be protective of your teenage son or daughter. Unfortunately, skin type, oil production and ultimately acne are all pretty much hereditary1.

Is acne hereditary
If you had acne as a teen, should you be worried your children will too?

Genetics And Acne

Our genetics are passed down to us from our parents2. The human body’s immune system is responsible for how we deal with bacteria. This means that some people will struggle with dry skin and blackheads, while other people will struggle with overly oily skin and whiteheads.

Genes also determine how well your body can clear up your pores3. Some people inherit the ability to shed dead skin cells in a way that does not clog their pores; others shed dead skin cells in a way that causes clogging of the pores. Obviously, skin color is genetic4, so the lighter your skin the more pronounced the redness from a breakout will be. Unfortunately, if a child’s parents both had acne, it is much more likely that the child will develop some sort of acne as well5.

A Proper Skin Care Plan

Fortunately there are things you can do to help reduce the chance of significant outbreaks and scarring. First start with the basics. Planning a skin regimen to minimize the chance of outbreaks is very simple and effective. An everyday face wash, toner, moisturizer and a mask here and there will help keep the skin clean and moisturized6.

Special Acne Products

If that is not working, you can always try some home face washing kits that we have tested on our website. Many people wonder does Proactiv really work… But from what we’ve found, Exposed Skin Care and ClearPores have the highest ratings and seem the most effective. Facing Acne’s editorial team tries their very best to be completely thorough when reviewing these different home acne treatments. Our website has many articles about home remedies, new technology and everything you could ever want to learn about acne7.

If there are still significant breakouts, try visiting a dermatologist8. Doctor-prescribed treatments like Accutane and laser treatments could make all the difference when trying to get rid of stubborn flare-ups.

So unfortunately, if you and your partner had significant acne growing up, the likelihood of your child getting acne is also high. According to one study, if a child has a first-degree relative with acne, their chance of having acne raises by four times9.

At a young age, kids won’t understand that many people deal with acne, but with help and guidance they can make it through this tough period in their life. It may take a little time, but in the end they will be grateful for all of your assistance. At some point in their life, 85% of the population experiences breakouts. This can be a good reminder for children, who sometimes think that they are the only ones who have to deal with this condition.


  1. Shen C, Wang QZ, Shen ZY, Yuan HY, Yu WJ, Chen XD, Xu H. Genetic association between the NLRP3 gene and acne vulgaris in a Chinese population. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2019 Mar;44(2):184-189. doi: 10.1111/ced.13657. Epub 2018 Jun 11.
  2. Mina-Vargas A, Colodro-Conde L, Grasby K, Zhu G, Gordon S, Medland SE, Martin NG1. Heritability and GWAS Analyses of Acne in Australian Adolescent Twins. Twin Res Hum Genet. 2017 Dec;20(6):541-549.
  3. Lichtenberger R, Simpson MA, Smith C, Barker J, Navarini AA. Genetic architecture of acne vulgaris. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Dec;31(12):1978-1990.
  4. Liu F, Visser M, Duffy DL, Hysi PG, Jacobs LC, Lao O, Zhong K, Walsh S, Chaitanya L, Wollstein A, Zhu G, Montgomery GW, Henders AK, Mangino M, Glass D, Bataille V, Sturm RA, Rivadeneira F, Hofman A, van IJcken WF, Uitterlinden AG, Palstra RJ, Spector TD, Martin NG, Nijsten TE, Kayser M. Genetics of skin color variation in Europeans: genome-wide association studies with functional follow-up. Hum Genet. 2015;134(8):823-35.
  5. Evans DM, Kirk KM, Nyholt DR, Novac C, Martin NG. Teenage acne is influenced by genetic factors. Br J Dermatol. 2005 Mar;152(3):579-81.
  6. Fox L, Csongradi C, Aucamp M, du Plessis J, Gerber M. Treatment Modalities for Acne. Molecules. 2016 Aug 13;21(8):1063.
  7. Stringer T, Nagler A, Orlow SJ, Oza VS. Clinical evidence for washing and cleansers in acne vulgaris: a systematic review. J Dermatolog Treat. 2018 Nov;29(7):688-693.
  8. Acne | American Academy of Dermatology. 2019.
  9. Szabó K1, Kemény L. Studying the genetic predisposing factors in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris. Hum Immunol. 2011 Sep;72(9):766-73.
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