Exactly what causes acne? There are many different types of acne. Most people think that acne is a condition that only afflicts teenagers however, in some cases, it persists until adulthood. Acne is an annoying condition that can cause discomfort, embarrassment and emotional distress. It usually appears on the face, neck, shoulders and back. This is because these areas have the largest amount of oil glands. This condition is common in teenagers but can reoccur later in life or persist until adulthood based on certain factors.
Different Types of Acne
Before we discuss probable causes of acne, let us go through the different types of acne. There are two major groups, non-inflammatory and inflammatory.
• Whiteheads and Black Heads (Comedones)
This type of acne is created when hair follicle openings are blocked by oil secretions, bacteria or dead skin cells. Blackheads are comedones that are open, thus, allowing the entry of dirt. This helps explain the dark color. Whiteheads, on the other hand, are closed comedones. They are generally white or yellow in color and are slightly raised.
These are small raised bumps. They are usually red and painful to the touch, as they signal infection or inflammation within the hair follicle.
Pustules are otherwise called pimples. These resemble papules, as they are red and tender. However, they contain white pus on their tips.
These are painful, as they are large lumps found under the skin’s surface. They feel solid to the touch and are caused by deep-seated buildup in the follicles.
These are pus-filled lumps that are painful and found under the skin surface. This type of acne can cause scarring, especially if you pick at them.
So, What Causes Acne?
There are three important factors that lead to acne production. These factors are as follows:
• Sebum/Oil Overproduction
People who have oily skin are prone to acne, as sebum overproduction makes it easier for dead skin cells and bacteria to latch on to the skin.
• Dead Skin Cells
If you fail to exfoliate regularly, your dead skin cells build up and may cause irritation to hair follicles.
• Bacteria Build-up
Poor hygiene can lead to bacteria build-up. Therefore, it pays to avoid touching your face too much, as our hands come in contact with more bacteria than we care to imagine.
Factors That May Contribute to Acne
Certain factors may lead to acne production. They either trigger the problem or aggravate existing cases of acne.
Androgens are hormones that are found in both males and females. Androgen levels increase during puberty and leads to enlargement of sebaceous glands. Therefore, if you have large pores, more sebum is made. Please note that pregnant women exhibit an increase of hormone levels as well. This is why many expecting mothers are prone to acne as well. Please note that oral contraceptives may also trigger acne. Thus be vigilant when you are starting oral contraceptive treatment or stopping it, as acne may appear within six months, due to the change in hormone levels.
Studies show that genetics also play a huge role in acne formation. Sadly, some people are genetically predisposed to have acne. If both your parents have acne, you can be sure that you will have it as well.
Some drugs can lead to acne production as well. Aside from androgens, medications that contain corticosteroids, some types of iodine and lithium may cause acne. Steroids, whether placed topically or taken internally can cause acne. Prednisone is an oral corticosteroid, as are hydrocortisone and cortisone, which are topical preparations. However, please note that they only cause acne when they are overused.
If you are prone to acne, be wary when buying beauty products as some may trigger acne production. Certain lotions, makeup and creams contain ingredients that may trigger or aggravate existing acne. Acne Cosmetica is the term used when the condition is caused by cosmetics. This is common on the scalp, face, hairline and neck areas. If you have oily skin, look for cosmetics that are made for your skin type. Many companies have dry and oily skin products. Please remember to wash your makeup sponges and brushes as well. Dirty makeup sponges and brushes may also cause folliculitis. It would be best to wash them once a week. You might also want to avoid lending your cosmetics and their applicators to other people, especially those with severe acne.
• Toothpaste and Mouthwashes
Many people think that putting toothpaste on a pimple will stop it from growing. This is a myth, as toothpaste contains fluoride, anti-cavity and even whitening ingredients that can cause even more acne to develop. Sodium pyrophosphate is an abrasive component of toothpaste that can cause skin irritation, which starts out acne formation.
• Food Choices
Certain kinds of food can trigger or worsen acne breakouts. If you consume large amounts of carbohydrates and dairy products, you are susceptible to acne formation because they cause an increase in blood sugar. If you suffer from acne, you do not need to avoid them altogether, but consume carbohydrates and dairy products sparingly.
In the past, people thought that stress caused acne. This is a myth. However, while stress is not a causative factor, it should be included in the list as it exacerbates acne breakouts. Therefore, if you should try to control your stress levels if you have acne, as it may worsen.
Acne is a condition that usually goes away on its own, with the help of a proper skin regimen. However, in cases where acne is caused by hormone levels or genetics, you might want to visit a licensed dermatologist. When you go in for your appointment, it would be best to tell him or her about all the medications you are taking. He or she may also ask you about your diet and a list of your cosmetics. There are many different reasons as to what causes acne along with different types of acne and your dermatologist may also prescribe certain treatments that will eradicate old scars caused by acne.