Friday, April 14, 2017

Understanding Acne

Understanding acne. What is acne? in case a definition is needed, here is a short one. Acne is a common skin disease that results when pores get blocked and bacteria form inside them. It comes in a variety of familiar forms and affects nearly everyone at some stage, particularly in their teen years. The inflamed, red bumps that sometimes form can be painful, and even painless white pimples are unsightly.

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In the surface of the skin are pores, tiny openings called a hair follicle. Deeper inside the pore, near the base of the follicle, there are sebaceous glands that produce sebum, a natural type of oil. That oil helps keep the skin flexible and protected.

Hair continues to grow through the surface, while oil or sebum oozes out the side and is spread around the area. Skin cells grow and die and are sloughed off through washing, rubbing or spontaneously. But that process can be interr

Read also: Prescription Acne Medication

Acne is a dermatological term that includes clogged pores, pimples and lumps or cysts that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. Acne occurs most commonly in teenagers, but is not limited to any age group, afflicting even adults in their forties. This disease has many varieties, and although none are life threatening, the more severe cases of acne can be disfiguring, leaving permanent scars on effected areas.

As stated above, acne is most common among teenagers, affecting teens between the ages 12 and 17. Usually, these mild cases are cleared up with over-the-counter treatments and the acne goes away by the early twenties. It also should be noted that although acne affects both girls and boys equally, there are some distinctions. Young men are more likely to have severe, long-term acne while women can have reoccurring or intermittent acne well into adulthood due to hormonal changes and cosmetics.

What Really Causes Acne?

It must be stated at the beginning that an exact cause of acne is unknown.. According to some researchers, the primary causes are hormones and genetics, but this cannot account for every case. No, in some instances, factors like medication, types of cosmetics, and certain aspects of personal hygiene (i.e. methods of cleansing skin) are more likely to create the conditions for acne’s formation. Environment, too, can be a catalyst.

Hormones and Sebum

It's no accident that acne tends to be associated with teens. It strikes over 85% of us during those years. It's at that stage of life when hormone levels rise sharply. Androgen levels increase in both males and females.

Among other effects, those stimulate the sebaceous glands that produce sebum, the natural oil found in hair follicles. The largest increases occur in the face, back and upper chest - right where acne tends to concentrate. The result can well be an outbreak of acne.

Read also: Over The Counter Acne Remedies

Increased oil or sebum isn't generally a problem if it reaches the surface. It's spread around, and often washed off with alcohol or soap and water by those who take good care of their skin. Still, blackheads may form as a result of the excess oil.

Worse, pores can close, causing them to become clogged with that excess oil. That encourages the growth of whiteheads. Also, the resulting pressure can cause follicles to rupture. The bacteria have a more 'friendly' environment in which to grow. At the same time, bacteria and the white blood cells that deal with it (normally without any problem) get trapped. The result is pus and inflammation.

Stress itself doesn't produce acne, but it can make it worse by increasing hormones. It also contributes to weakening the immune system, thus leading a less effective defense against invading bacteria. But it's not a major factor.


Certain drugs can encourage the development of acne. Barbituates and tetracycline are known to be among the culprits. Anabolic steroids are widely recognized by professional dermatologists to be a major contributor among those who take them. Forgoing these, except for specific medical purposes, helps reduce the odds.


Genetics plays a role, as well. How large, is still not yet quantified. The area is one of active research, and therefore the exact mechanism isn't detailed. But, statistics show that acne does tend to run in families. That may be partly due to diet or other common family circumstances. But it's more a factor of inheritance.

Diet & Skin Care

This is a much more minor cause than is commonly supposed. While certain foods are themselves greasy, that doesn't translate directly into increased oil in the skin. Of course, poor eating habits often go hand in hand with poor skin care practices. And, any food that tends to increase the production of sebum (oil) or certain hormones will have an effect.

But no study suggests that the common culprits - soft drinks, chocolate and greasy cheeseburgers, among others - play a large role in producing acne.

Poor cleansing habits play some role, because bacteria that lie near the surface sometimes remain 'unmolested'. Regular use of a good cleanser can help. Take care that the skin doesn't become excessively dry. That causes other problems. Also, heavy dirt or even makeup can contribute to a problem by blocking the pore, especially if they block oil ducts. But surface dirt itself isn't responsible for acne. The dark head on blackheads is the result of exposure to air, not trapped dirt.

There's little one can do about heredity, and passing through the teen years is a normal part of life. But good skin care, quick treatment at the onset of symptoms and other controllable choices will help keep acne at bay.

Other Factors

As was stated before, the side effects of certain drugs can cause acne. Examples can include: barbiturates, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, lithium and certain forms of steroids.

Heavy or Oily Costmetics

In the case of certain cosmetics, their ingredients can affect the structure of hair follicles and lead to over-production of sebum, which in turn clogs the pores.

Over-Abrasive Cleansing

Astringent facial products can dry the skin out and also causes the body to overproduce sebum to compensate.  The use of harsh exfoliators can damage existing spots and spread infection.

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