Is Acne Hereditary?

Genetics and Acne

Your mother and father both had acne as teenagers. Your brother did too. Does that mean you're skin is headed for the same fate?

Your Chances of Developing Acne Is Greater If You Have a Family History of It

Genetics do play a role. Just like the color of your eyes and the shape of your nose, acne seems to be hereditary.

So if Mom or Dad (or both) had acne, it’s more likely that you’ll develop it too.

And the more members of your family with acne, the greater the chances you have of developing the problem.

Incidentally, whether or not your mother had acne seems to more strongly determine your chances of developing this skin problem. Some studies have shown the incidence of acne increases if the mother had acne at any point in her life. This suggests that the propensity for developing acne may be passed down through the X chromosome.

Genetics Isn't the Only Factor in Acne Development

Don’t let your mother's high school yearbook picture send you into heart palpitations, though. Your genes may play a role in acne development, but it's not the only factor.

Even with a family history of acne, it’s possible you’ll never have so much as the occasional pimple. On the flip side, there are plenty of people with acne who come from clear-skinned parents.

There are many other factors that contribute to acne development besides just family history.

Hormones play a role. The cosmetics you use on your skin may play a role.

Your Acne Can Be Treated, Even if There is a Strong Family History of Acne

If acne runs in your family, you don't have to just deal with pimples. You have plenty of treatment options (many of which were not available during your parent’s acne-filled adolescent years.)

One fact to be aware of: If you have a strong family history of acne, your own breakouts may be more difficult to treat. But family history or not, there are treatments that will be effective for you.

If acne, especially severe acne, runs in your family you'll want to treat it sooner rather than later. It's easier to get breakouts under control when they're relatively mild, rather than waiting until acne is stubbornly inflamed before starting treatment. 

Over-the-counter acne products have come a long way. For mild blemishes, they can be effective. 

Prescription acne medications are a better option for more severe acne. These more serious breakouts need stronger treatment than what comes from the drug store. 

A dermatologist can help you devise a treatment plan that will work to clear up your skin. If you need help getting blemishes under control, don't hesitate to put in a call to a dermatologist. You'll be glad you did.


Bhate K, Tan JK. "A global perspective on the epidmiology 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 advance online publication 12 March 2009

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