There are many attributing factors that can cause acne. It is a fact that anywhere from 80 to 100 percent of people will experience an outbreak at some point in their life. Acne is most commonly linked to the hormonal changes that take place as young people mature from childhood to adolescence, known as puberty. The hormones that cause physical maturation also cause the sebaceous glands to become overactive. Androgens (male hormones) seem to have the greatest effect on sebaceous glands. These androgens are present in females as well as males, but in higher amounts in males.
Sebaceous glands are more frequently are found on the face, upper neck and chest. These glands produce an oily substance called sebum, which helps keep skin and hair moisturized. Sebaceous glands are found together with a hair shaft called a pilosebaceous unit or sebaceous follicle. Especially during puberty, the cells of the skin that line the follicle begin to shed more rapidly. In people who develop acne, cells shed and stick together more so than in people who do not develop acne. When cells mix with the increased amount of sebum being produced, they can plug the opening of the follicle. Meanwhile, the sebaceous glands continue to produce sebum, and the follicle swells up with sebum.
People have a normally harmless bacterium on their skin called Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes which feeds on sebum and begins to multiply rapidly in the clogged hair follicle. This ignites our immune system allowing these bacteria to produce substances that can cause red irritation. Sometimes, the wall of the follicle bursts, spreading inflammation to the surrounding skin. This is the process by which acne lesions, from blackheads to pimples, are formed. In worst cases, cysts will grow under the skin’s surface. When these rupture, the infection will spread and can cause scarring.
Blocked skin pores, which bulge outward to form:
- Blackheads – are formed when the pores close to the surface of the skin are clogged. Since they are exposed to the skin surface, blackheads don’t usually become inflamed. Blackheads are dark due to the presence of a dark pigment. Their color is not the result of dirt in the pores.
- Whiteheads – develop from a blockage deeper in a pore. Since they are deeper, they do not have a drainage path, allowing the oil to accumulate in the skin, causing small flesh–colored or white–colored bumps. Unlike blackheads, whiteheads are more likely to lead to the red inflammations known as pimples or zits.
- Pustules (also known as pimples or zits) – occur when the walls of the blocked follicle ruptures. Oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria normally found on the skin surface get into the skin and irritate it, forming small areas of inflammation.
- Cysts – larger, red, inflamed areas deep in the skin that indicate a more extensive infection. Sebum production begins to decrease around age 20, but in some cases acne can affect people into their 40′s or 50′s.
In order to find the right acne cure, it is important to know what is taking place physically because there are many causes that can be linked to acne:
Hormones – Most people are affected by acne during puberty. Similarly, hormonal changes can also occur during pregnancy or before, during or after a menstrual period.
Bacteria – P. acne or acne is the natural bacteria in our skin. The plugged follicles often serve as the breeding ground for these bacteria which may lead to formation of acne.
Stress – When you are stressed, your body undergoes hormonal changes which may lead to formation of pimples.
Overactive oil glands – The sebaceous glands activity levels are managed by the release of hormones, especially during puberty. Overactive oil glands mean excessive sebum which may clog the pores and lead to acne.
Cosmetics – Most makeup is not pore–clogging, but it is best to use water based or oil–free makeup. Oily or heavy makeup can lead to clogged pores increasing your risk of pimples. Also, be sure to remove your make because extended wear can lead to acne.
Drugs – Some medications may cause or worsen acne, such as those containing iodides, bromides, or oral or injected steroids (either the medically prescribed prednisone or the steroids that bodybuilders or athletes take). Other drugs that can cause or aggravate acne are anticonvulsant medications and lithium, which is used to treat bipolar disorder. Most cases of acne, however, are not drug–related.
Occupations: In some jobs, exposure to industrial products like cutting oils may produce acne.
Be careful not to scrub your face, wash it gently.
Try not to squeeze or pick at pimples because it can lead to infection and scarring.
These are just some of the causes that can lead to acne either directly or indirectly.
There are many helpful acne treatments available, but if it becomes persistent and treatments are no longer helping, you may need to seek help from a doctor and prescription acne medication treatments.