Blemish 101: What causes Acne?
The causes of acne are often complex and multi-faceted. It doesn’t just affect our face – it can also affect our back, neck, and chest and even buttocks. What exactly is acne? Here is a simple definition:
“Acne is a disorder that affects the skin’s oil glands and hair follicles. The small holes in your skin (pores) connect to oil glands under the skin. These glands make an oily substance called sebum. The pores connect to the glands by a canal called a follicle. Inside the follicles, oil carries dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. A thin hair also grows through the follicle and out to the skin. Sometimes, the hair, sebum, and skin cells clump together into a plug. The bacteria in the plug cause swelling. Then when the plug starts to break down, a pimple grows.”
Acne can be categorized into inflammatory and non-inflammatory forms. Inflammatory acne usually occur when pores become clogged and infected with bacteria (which can turn into pustules, pimples with pus, cysts and nodules). Non-inflammatory acne refers to whiteheads and blackheads.
Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is the bacteria that contributes to acne (although there are many different strains of P.acnes, and not all of them contribute to acne). While there may not be “one” cause of acne, people with acne tend to have stickier sebum and abnormal keratinization, leading to plugs.
Here are some common causes of acne:
Hormonal acne – Typical signs of hormonal acne include having it fluctuate around your monthly cycle. Hormonal acne tends to be stubborn and painful. Hormonal fluctuations can cause increased oil production, which can aggravate acne issues.
Cosmetic acne – Acne Cosmetica is caused by the use of makeup and topical skin care product. Avoid the offending product as well as ingredients such as fragrances, alcohol and other ingredients that can trigger irritation or clog our pores.
Stress – Acne can also be triggered by stress, which is why some people find themselves breaking out near exams or in times of stress. This is because of stress hormones increasing oil production and general inflammation.
Broken Skin Barrier – When our skin’s protective barrier is damaged, it is unable to properly protect our skin from harmful influences dirt, radiation and bacteria. As a result, skin becomes sensitive and prone to breakouts and inflammation. Is your skin barrier compromised?
Or does your acne only appear in certain areas? Find out the likely causes of such area-specific blemishes in this post.
In our next post, we will look at how to control acne.
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