The exact cause of acne is not completely known. However, the experts believe primary cause is a rise in androgen levels – androgen is a type of hormone. Androgen levels rise when a human becomes an adolescent. Some studies found that a vulnerability to acne and pimples could also be genetic. Sometimes medications which contain androgen and lithium may cause acne. Too much oily cosmetics may cause acne in some vulnerable people. Though stress can aggravate acne, but it evidently does not cause it.
Causes Of Acne And Pimples
1. Hormones: Acne is no doubt in part a hormonal condition. It’s a well-known fact that androgens (a type of male-sex hormones that include testosterone) when increase in boys and girls during puberty cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum. It’s also known that acne symptoms usually increase when androgen (male hormone) levels increase. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and the consumption of oral contraceptives too affect sebum production, and so can be an acne cause. But, exactly how and why hormones affect acne still remains unknown.
2. Key Factors That Cause Pimples And Acne:
(i) Oil production
(ii) Dead skin cells
(iii) Clogged pores
Acne typically occurs on your face, neck, chest, back and shoulders. These areas of skin have the maximum oil (sebaceous) glands. Acne appears when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Hair follicles are linked to oil glands. These glands emit an oily substance (sebum) to lubricate your hair and skin. Sebum naturally travels all along the hair shafts and through the openings of the hair follicles to come out onto the exterior of the skin.
When the body generates excess of sebum (oil) and dead skin cells, the two can accumulate in the hair follicles to form a soft plug. This makes an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. As a consequence, the blocked pores get infected with bacteria leading to inflammation.
Whitehead (Comedones): The blocked pore can cause the follicle wall to puff up, producing a whitehead.
Blackhead (Comedones): Or the plug may open up to the surface, oxidize and become darkened, resulting into a blackhead. Though, a blackhead may look like dirt stuck in pores but in fact the pore is clogged with bacteria and oil which becomes brown when it’s exposed to the air.
Pimple: It’s a raised red spot with a white center, which often is caused when blocked hair follicle gets inflamed or infected.
Cyst: Blockages and inflammation which occur deep inside hair follicles generate cyst-like lumps underneath the surface of your skin.
Inflammatory Acne: At times, the blockages in the pores cause the follicle wall to break under the pressure of the buildup of oil and dead cells. When this occurs, the sebum oozes onto surrounding tissues and develops a pustule or a papule – this is known as inflammatory acne. Larger, tender pustules are termed as nodules.
Note: The pores in your skin, which are the openings of the sweat glands, aren’t generally involved in acne.
Causes That Trigger Or Aggravate Existing Acne
(i) Stress: Emotional stress upsets the endocrine (hormone) system, digestive system, respiratory mechanism, immune system, and various other bodily mechanisms. Over-taxing the body or lack of sleep can also result into physical stress, which can negatively distress our bodily processes. It’s known that both emotional and physical stress can make acne worse, but exactly why is still unknown.
(ii) Diet: According to some studies certain foods that cause acne include dairy products and carbohydrate-rich foods (like bread, bagels and chips). As per some studies, Chocolate has long been suspicious of causing acne to worsen. However, further studies are required to find why this happens and whether acne prone people need to follow specific dietary restrictions.
Tip: Eating greasy food doesn’t affect acne much. But working in a greasy area, like a kitchen with fry vats can as the oil may stick to the skin and clog the hair follicles. This can irritate your skin or cause acne.
(iii) Genetic: Some studies show that a vulnerability to acne can be genetic. If your parents had acne, probability is that you will as well. But why it’s so is still unknown.
(iv) Certain Medications: Some medications that contain corticosteroids, androgen or lithium may worsen acne.
(v) Greasy Makeup: Oily cosmetics may cause acne in some vulnerable people.
Tip: Use oil-free makeup that doesn’t clog pores (noncomedogenics) and remove makeup regularly. Non oily cosmetics don’t cause or aggravate acne.
The real culprit can be a complex mix of the above acne causes or some yet undiscovered reason could be the root cause. Acne is still one of medical science’s great unsolved mysteries. Why does it exactly happen? Why does it disappear in some people and not others? There are indeed many more questions than there are answers.
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