Acne is a common skin problem that affects people across the globe. If you suffer from acne you know it’s more than just a few pimples on your face. Acne can affect every area of your life. It can make you feel alone, unattractive, even depressed. According to The American Academy of Dermatology acne affects over 50 million Americans yearly and it’s also the most common skin condition in the United States. Pimples can develop on anyone at any age, but tend to be most common during puberty. So, what causes acne, you ask?
Mainly hormones and the overproduction of oil. Basically, your hair follicles become clogged with oil, which leads to the growth of the zit-causing bacteria known as P. acnes. Although genetics play a big role in how your body reacts to acne-stimulating hormones, there are certain patterns you could be repeating on a daily basis that causes or worsens your breakouts.
Luckily, we enlisted some of those surprising acne causes. So before you go cursing your parents again for your genes, take the below culprits into consideration, first.
How does pimples comes about?
Acne occurs when the small pores on the surface of the skin become blocked with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Each individual pore on the skin opens up to a follicle beneath the skin. Within these follicles lie a singular hair and a sebaceous gland.
The sebaceous gland produces an oil designed to keep your skin lubricated and soft. However, when hormonal changes and other factors cause the gland to produce an excess of sebum, the oil will be pumped through the follicle, and may pick up dead skin cells and P. acnes bacteria on its way out.
In case these substances clump together, a plug will form. Bacteria multiply quickly in these blocked pores. The end result is a pimple. Acne can occur on the face, back, neck, chest, arms, and buttocks. However, it can occur at any other skin area.
What are the causes of acne?
Pimples can develop due to various reasons. Each of these factors changes among individuals. While you can’t control them, understanding these factors can help you find the most effective solution. Here are a few:
1. Causes of acne: Genetics
Genetics can also have an effect on acne breakouts. This may be the reason some people are prone to acne while others are not. One of the top cited studies took a look at 458 pairs of identical twins and 1099 pairs of fraternal twins to study it’s prevalence. They found that genes explained a significant 81 percent of the difference in acne prevalence, while the other 19 percent was explained by non-shared environmental factors.
Yet another study took a look at the difference in rates of acne in first-degree relatives between patients and controls. The study used 204 acne patients, and 144 non-acne controls. Their study determined that having a first-degree relative who suffers from acne increases the risk of getting acne by four times.
Genes play a role in several ways: firstly, they contribute to skin sensitivity. Acne-prone skin is more susceptible to oil production, and tends to shed and regenerate skin cells faster. Those prone to acne also exhibit strong inflammatory responses to skin irritants and bacteria in comparison to those who don’t have issues with pimples.
2. Acne causes: Hormones
When hormone levels increase, the sebaceous glands found within the skin’s hair follicles produce an excess of sebum. Sebum is a waxy substance that the body produce to keep the skin soft and moisturized. However, when hormonal changes cause an increase in sebum production, the pores can become clogged. This sticky substance can collect dead skin cells, debris, and bacteria, forming a plug in the follicle. Blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and pustules all begin the same way.
3. Extra sebum
When the sebaceous gland is stimulated by androgens, it produces extra sebum (oil). As the sebum makes its way up the follicle towards the skin’s surface, it mixes with common skin bacteria and dead skin cells that have been shed from the lining of the follicle. While this process is normal, the presence of extra sebum in the follicle increases the chances of clogging which causes pimples.
4. Follicle fallout
Dead skin cells within the follicle usually shed gradually and are dislodged onto the skin’s surface. In people with overactive sebaceous glands — (including almost everyone during puberty) — these cells are shed more rapidly. When this happens, the dead skin cells mix with the excess sebum and form a plug in the follicle, preventing the skin from finishing its natural process of renewal.
The sebum gets accumulated behind blocked pores. This sebum that builds up behind the blocked pores contains bacteria. A slow growing bacterium, Propionibacterium acne, thrives naturally in the skin. When the conditions are suitable, this bacterium spreads and cause painful pimples. It feeds on sebum and produces a substance that leads to an immune response and also causes skin inflammation.
6. Acne causes: Inflammation
When your body comes in contact with unwanted bacteria, it sends an army of white blood cells to attack the intruders. This process is known as an inflammatory response. This response is what makes pimples red, swollen and painful. Besides, the inflammatory response is different for everyone.
7. Sensitive to testosterone
People with skin prone to acne are usually sensitive to testosterone. This is a natural hormone present in both males and females. In such people, the testosterone triggers oversecretion of sebum. This then leads to blockage of pores. Sometimes, dead skin cells get stuck to the sebum and make matters worse.
8. Dairy and diary products
A study focused in 2005, in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology took on milk and milk products. By examining the diets of 47,355 women, researchers observed a significant connection between milk and dairy intake and breakouts. Some researchers believe this icauses acne due to high levels of hormones found in our milk products.
Much of the milk consumed is produced by pregnant cows, who pump out progesterone, IGF-1, and other compounds that are then passed into the milk. We may also be subject to Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH). These hormones can signal the oil glands to start producing more sebum, which can cause acne.
9. Skincare Products
While using your favorite beauty products, you often forget the fact that these can also cause pimples and blackheads. Using products that are not suitable for your skin type is a complete no-no. Also, switching products very frequently causes a lot of harm to skin. The new ingredients in the product can irritate your skin. This also causes acne and breakouts.
Some support the fact that that cosmetics can fill up your pores, worsen pimples, and prevent your skin from “breathing”. The truth is, whether or not makeup worsens acne is highly individualized. While excessive use of foundations, concealers, and other cosmetics can work their way into and block up your pores, making sure to clean your face of such products before working out or going to bed lessens the likelihood of makeup blockages.
10. Causes of acne: The role of stress
Another main cause of pimples is stress. Stress is not the main cause for breakouts, but rather a factor that worsens a previously existing condition. Increased levels of stress signals the adrenal glands to produce the male hormone androgen. This signals sebaceous oil glands to secrete more sebum. As this excess oil builds up, pimples is more likely to develop.
This will make the skin appear red and inflamed. Stress can also make breakouts last longer and become more severe. Lowering stress levels can have an immediate beneficial effect on the appearance and frequency of acne breakouts. It’s important to maintain a regular exercise routine, get enough sleep every night, and practice stress control methods.
Ever wonder why you come home from a vacation and your skin looks like the surface of the moon? The change of environment – humidity, weather or even water (minerals, fluoride or other elements) – can trigger acne. Your skin’s not used to those things, so it’s being challenged and reacts by breaking out.
What can I do?
Fortunately, there are options! There are many kinds of treatments available. But first, you need to know the type and severity of your condition. Pimples vary dramatically from person to person. They can take many forms, and not every solution will be right for everyone. The more you know about your specific form of acne, the more likely you are to find a system that works for you.