Acne is the medical term for pimples, zits and blackheads. Acne is generally caused by small hair follicle holes on the skin surface, called pores, getting blocked. The sebaceous glands produce sebum, which is a fatty substance that provides lubrication for the hair and skin. In acne, the pores start to produce too much oil.
In teenage years and puberty, there’s an overproduction of sebum and also an increase in androgen hormones. These are male hormones. Androgens promote acne because they bind with sebum and cause acne. During puberty and adolescence, androgens and other hormones (testosterone and estrogen) stimulate the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more oil.
Women are prone to adult acne. In adult acne, hormonal changes can lead to increased oil production. For some women, this can trigger acne. The androgen, a male hormone, can cause hair growth in places where there were none before, and it can lead to the blocking or closing of hair follicle pores. This is one of the many reasons why women have more severe acne than men.
Some of the most effective treatments for adult acne are oral medications, such as retinol (a form of vitamin A), adapalene, and azelaic acid. Doctors often recommend adapalene for patients with severe acne. Another effective oral medication is retinoic acid. Many doctors also prescribe topical preparations that contain adapalene or retinoic acid. Topical preparations are less effective than oral medications.
Another common cause of acne is the intake of too many sugary foods, oily foods, greasy foods, processed foods, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Eating lots of sugar and fatty foods can cause acne because they tend to clog pores. This makes it harder for bacteria to develop inside the body. The body’s natural mechanism is to expel excess sebum from the pores. If the sebum cannot leave the follicle, bacteria will begin to multiply inside the hair and cause acne. Consuming too many sugary foods will make it difficult for the body to expel excess sebum, therefore causing more bacteria to develop inside the hair.
Excessive production of sebum by the oil glands can also cause inflammation and blockage of hair follicle openings. Sebum, composed mainly of an oily substance, helps maintain the healthy lining of the follicle and keep the follicle clean. But when excessive sebum production occurs, it can clog the follicle openings and inflammation may occur. Excessive production can also cause excess skin shedding, resulting in a tangled mass of dead skin cells and dirt, and this is how dead skin cells get into the hair.
Scarring is also caused by the excessive oil and sebum production. If sebum cannot leave the follicle, it becomes trapped inside and forms into scars, which look like pits. If these scars do not heal properly, they can spread and cause new pimples to form. There are two ways to remove these scars: through punch grafts and dermabrasion. Punch grafts are effective in removing acne-causing bacteria, and dermabrasion improves the appearance of the scars.
Medications may help reduce the severity of acne, but if you use them to treat symptoms, rather than clearing the problem, they can contribute to acne. For instance, benzoyl peroxide can dry out the skin and may help prevent scarring. However, if you stop using the benzoyl peroxide, your skin can become even drier. Antibiotics can help prevent bacteria from forming in clogged pores. These medications must be used in moderation, because too much of any medication can worsen the condition of any ailment.
During puberty, hormonal changes occur at a higher rate. Hormonal imbalance can cause excess oil production and clogging of the skin pores. This can worsen the appearance of scars caused by acne during puberty. To avoid this, individuals should try to maintain a proper diet and healthy lifestyle.
Pregnant women are usually at a greater risk of developing acne during puberty because they experience hormonal changes due to pregnancy. Pregnancy causes a number of risks, including an increased risk of blood clots. Aside, from increased risk of blood clots, pregnant women also experience hormonal changes that can affect the production of sebum. It is essential for pregnant women to monitor their hormone levels to prevent acne.
There are certain things that people can do to avoid or minimize the occurrence of acne. Individuals should avoid certain things such as using harsh facial cleansers, oil-based make up, greasy foods, and certain foods that trigger acne flare ups. Using too much sunscreen, benzoyl peroxide, or other over the counter acne treatments can also lead to hormone imbalance. It is recommended to wash the face at least twice daily to remove excess oil, dirt, and bacteria. It is also recommended to change the oil or makeup in the evening to reduce oil production.