Acne vulgaris, commonly called acne, is a skin disease involving the oil glands located at the base of the hair follicles. It affects mostly teenagers of both sexes, of any race. Originating from the Greek word ‘acme or akme’ meaning “the highest point”, this disease can be bothersome to anyone especially at a stage of extreme self-consciousness. Popular to be caused by a bacterial infection, let’s delve our skin further to know what causes acne.
Our skin contains tiny holes called pores. In each pore, sprouts a follicle, containing a hair and an oil gland, medically known as the sebaceous gland. This produces sebum or oil that aids in removing old skin cells and keeping your skin soft. If oil production is normal, then why does it become a problem?
Anything in excess is unhealthy. Same principle goes with sebum secretion. During our adolescent years known as the stage of puberty, our hormones become topsy-turvy; and androgen, a male hormone present in men and women, increases. Elevated levels of androgen stimulate oil glands to grow. A larger gland would obviously produce a large amount of oil. Excessive sebum affects skin cell maturation and clogs follicular openings or pores. As the clog worsens and follicles enlarge, the cell wall may break down welcoming the entry of bacteria and other irritating substances deeper into the skin, thus, eventually producing inflammation. The severity of the disease is then identified on how deep foreign invaders have lodged inside.
But what really causes acne? Several studies proved no one factor on this big question. The disease itself is a combination of every little thing such as:
- Heredity. The disease tends to run in families.
- Periods with hormonal imbalance. Teens in puberty, pregnant women, menstruating ladies, and even stress, can have indirect cause for acne invasion.
- Medications, cosmetics, and some food. Certain medications, like estrogen and testosterone cause acne. Oil-based cosmetics are a proven factor why our follicles become clogged, even if you’re outside the pubertal stage. A recent study just showed that foods high in sugar and dairy can actually aggravate the disease.
The first step in defeating the enemy is ‘familiarizing’ it. What if the problem is on your face? No worries, at least you have done the first basic step, knowing what really causes acne!