What Causes Acne
Acne is the culmination of a long process of activity in the pores of the skin. Though many people may relate oily skin and secretions with acne, not many are sure of the reason behind acne and often wonder what causes acne. In this article we provide the answer and explain it as well. The paragraphs below contain a detailed answer.
What causes acne
Acne is an infection caused by the bacterium Propionibacterium Acnes that lives on the human skin. It feeds on the oily secretion (sebum) on the skin. The excretion of sebum by the sebaceous glands is part of the normal activity of the skin. When this sebum is excreted in excess, it gets trapped in the pores of the skin. Since the Propionibacterium Acnes feeds on sebum, it finds the trapped sebum a fertile ground and multiplies rapidly. Its growth naturally attracts the leukocytes (white blood cells) in large numbers to fight the infection. While fighting the bacteria, the leukocytes produce an enzyme that punctures the wall of the pore causing the matter inside to leak into the surrounding tissue. Thus the Propionibacterium Acnes infection extends to the surrounding tissue resulting in the reddish inflammation as well as pustules. This bacterium then proceeds to breakdown sebum into fatty acids which aggravates the inflammation further. The end result is the ugly looking and annoying acne.
What Causes Acne
Reasons behind acne
Now you know what causes acne. But what leads to such excess production of sebum, the host for the Propionibacterium Acnes bacterium. Well there are a host of reasons. These are explained below.
1. Hormonal imbalance
Teenagers face the most problems with acne as their bodies are at a growth phase (adolescent phase) which causes the hormones to be produced in large quantities. Androgen (and sometimes estrogen) is produced in large quantity during the adolescent phase. This stimulates the sebaceous glands to work overtime and produce excess sebum. The excess sebum gets trapped in the pores and hair follicles giving rise to acne. Similarly pregnancy causes changes in the hormonal level in the bodies of women. That is why some pregnant women complain of acne.
2. Unhealthy diet
Processed foods, junk foods, oily foods and the like contain a lot of chemicals and fats. When these chemicals and fatty substances are absorbed into the body, they upset the natural healthy cycle of the body causing abnormal secretion of sebum. This can open the way for the Propionibacterium Acnes to infect and cause acne. People who eat a healthy diet with a balanced mix of vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins are less susceptible to acne. There is also a need to drink plenty of water to keep the skin well hydrated. A dry flaking skin can become oily and suffer from acne.
People who have a family history of acne are more likely have skin that produces of excess sebum. They are more prone to acne than those who have a history of clear skin.
4. Drug side effect
Several drugs that we take to cure one ailment can cause an unwanted side effect which can result in another ailment. One of these is acne. Steroid often cause acne as a side effect. Bromides, iodides, anti-convulsant, isoniazids, disulfuram, lithium, immuno-suppressants, barbiturates and corticosteroids etc, are some of the types of drugs that cause acne. Therefore before you start medication, you should become aware of the side effects and all that you can do to prevent them.
5. Makeup and cosmetics
Makeups and oil based cosmetics can be comedogenic. They clog the pores and follicles in the skin trapping the sebum inside. The trapped sebum then leads to acne. Hence its necessary to use water based makeup items and cosmetics. Such substances hardly clog the pores allowing for free secretion.
6. Pricking pimples
Most people love to prick their pimples to squeeze out the pus. While most pimples will heal harmlessly after being drained, deeply infected pimples can become severe and develop into acne. This happens as the pricking stimulates the production of more sebum, resulting in more infection and more leukocytes. The result can be an ugly looking pus filled pimple. This can lead to scarring at the site hence must be handled carefully.
What causes acne, can differ among people based on – geographical locations, races, dietary habits, environments, pollutions, hygiene, lifestyle, etc. A through understanding of the causative factors behind acne is necessary to derive a proper regimen to prevent and treat acne.