Acne and its Causes

By: roopam


When you think of acne, most people tend to link it to adolescence. However, what you may not realize is that many adults also suffer from the condition and it can cause a lot of shame and embarrassment.

There are a number of theories on why people suffer from acne, but what are the true causes - and can it actually be prevented?

Understanding Acne

Acne is a term used to describe the presence of reddish spots on the skin. It can be unpleasant to look at and it can cause a lot of embarrassment to those who suffer from the condition.

Scientifically it is initiated by blocked hair follicles. It is thought that the follicles become blocked after abnormal flaking of the cells occurs. The blocked follicle then enlarges and ruptures, which causes oil to leak out into the skin. This causes a swelling and inflammation occurs which is what gives the spots their red color.

The true cause of acne is not actually known. However there are many theories as to what could contribute to the condition.

Hormones, Stress and Bacteria

The most commonly accepted theory is that acne is caused by hormones. This is especially the case in adolescents where acne flares up and then disappears as the person ages. More specifically it is the hormones known as androgens that are thought to be to blame and they are what cause the sebaceous glands to over-stimulate and produce more oil. These hormones are also thought to be to blame for women who develop acne during their period. It is the extra oil produced by the sebaceous glands that mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria and which blocks the pores, causing acne.

Another prevalent theory is that stress can play a big part in acne. This is because when we are stressed, our bodies produce certain hormones like cortisol - which is well known to aggravate acne. So whilst stress is not thought to directly cause acne, it can actually make the condition worse.

Bacteria may also influence the appearance of acne on one's skin. More specifically, it is the bacteria known as "Propionibacterium acne" that is thought to be the problem. This is because they produce a certain substance which can cause redness as well as irritation to the skin. The enzymes which they create can also cause irritation because they dissolve the sebum.

Although nobody knows the true cause of acne, the above mentioned are just three factors which are thought to contribute to the problem.

Two Common Acne Myths

One thing which many people believe when it comes to the cause of acne is that it is caused by a lack of hygiene. Dirt and cleanliness have been linked many times to the condition, but in fact they have nothing to do with causing acne. If you look at it logically, it is easy to see why people would assume that acne is caused by dirt. After all the condition occurs when the pores are blocked and so if you have dirt build up on the skin, it could block the pores. However, it will not cause acne.

Another common myth is that you can catch acne. It is in no way contagious, though obviously with any spots on the skin it is not advisable to pick them or touch other areas of the skin after you have touched the acne. This is just common sense and it is general hygiene which you should follow.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the causes of acne and the truth behind some of the myths.

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