What Causes Acne?

by : rsbombard

Acne inflicts most people at some stage of their lives, most commonly during puberty. Contrary to the popular myth, acne is not caused by eating greasy foods and chocolates. The exact reason why people get acne is still not fully understood although it is known to run in the family. Listed here are the most commonly associated reasons for acne. However, it is important to keep in mind that in every person the cause of acne can differ.

Hormonal activity
The most common cause of acne is a change in the hormone levels in the body. This especially occurs during puberty, although in women, it can also happen during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, and after adolescence as well. In the case of the latter it is classified as adult acne. The elevated hormone levels cause the sebaceous glands present under the hair shaft to produce more oil or sebum. Sebum is generally released to lubricate and protect the skin. However, when this excessive sebum combines with the dead skin cells, it clogs the skin pores and instigates acne.

Dead skin cells
During puberty the cells that line the hair follicles tend to be shed off more rapidly, hence creating an accumulation of dead skin cells. Normally this accumulation of cells would drain out with the sebum. However, in acne-prone skin, the sebum and these dead skin cells stick together and plug the pore of the skin. These plugs clog the pores and trap the bacteria inside, which is allowed to proliferate freely. It ends up forming a comedone a whitehead or a blackhead, which is the beginning of acne.

Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is a kind of skin bacteria that has been associated with acne. When the sebum and dead skin cells plug the skin pore, it creates a perfect environment for this bacterium to multiply unchecked. This trapped mixture of sebum, dead cells and bacteria leaks into the adjoining tissues and is responsible for the inflammation, redness and the pus.

Contact with chlorine compounds
An exposure to high levels of chlorine compounds, especially chlorinated dioxins can also cause acne. This is a severe form of acne and is termed Chloracne.

Reactions to some drugs and medications can also trigger off acne. For instance, it is now believed that although stress is not directly responsible for acne, but medications taken to treat chronic stress can set off an acne attack. Medications containing halogens like iodides, chlorides and bromides; lithium, barbiturates and androgens have all been linked to acne. Anabolic steroids, which are basically steroid hormones that promote cell growth and division and are taken for body building purposes, can also cause acne.