Causes of Acne
Whether you are a teen or in your twenties, acne can be a recurring condition. It is so common that it is a considered to be a normal part of puberty and even adulthood. 1 in 5 adults can develop acne. Acne is common but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with. So what causes this annoying skin condition?
The pores in the skin contain sebaceous glands which, as the name suggests, make sebum. Sebum is the natural oil that lubricates your hair and skin and most of the time, just the right amount is made. However, if your hormones stimulate the glands to make extra sebum, the glands can become over active and you are on the road to pores becoming clogged up with both too much sebum and too many dead cells. It is when bacteria gets trapped in these clogged pores and then multiplies that swelling and redness can result... and before too long you have white heads, blackheads and / or pimples.
So what can cause the glands to make that extra sebum?
In adult acne the causes are often stress, bad cosmetics, hormones and birth control pills:
- Stress can cause those oil glands to overcompensate.
- Bad cosmetics can lead to bacteria-laden pores (that is cosmetics that have been around too long and become contaminated with air borne bacteria, and bacteria picked up off the skin).
- Hormones can also cause those oil glands to overcompensate.
- Birth control pills containing androgen can cause acne breakouts.
In teen acne the causes can be:
- The oil glands are stimulated to produce oil by hormones, specifically the male hormones called androgens.
- Women also have these hormones but much less of them.
- These hormones are produced by the testes in men and by the ovaries in women.
- In both sexes, androgens are also produced by the adrenal glands.
- During times of stress, the adrenal glands produce increased levels of these hormones, causing even greater enlargement of the oil glands.
- During puberty, the oil glands become over active in response to hormonal changes.
Other contributing factors are:
- Drugs and some medications can actually cause or worsen acne. Examples are those drugs containing iodides, bromides or steroids.
- In some occupations, workers are exposed to industrial products like cutting oils or petroleum or cooking oils which could be a contributing factor.
- Cosmetics - as some of these together with skin-care products can clog the pores. Check the ingredients carefully and look for ones that are water based.
Remember that acne usually begins first with blackheads. Red pimples only develop when those blackheads become inflamed and they spread when you keep touching them (perhaps with dirty hands). Once a pimple then becomes infected, it can develop a white head or pustule.