What causes acne?

Acne is a very common skin condition, and affects over 60 million people in the United States alone.

But for those with acne, it’s no laughing matter, as has a big effect on nearly all aspects of our lives. As I've said, I've had acne from age 14 to 28. When I had acne, it affected pretty much every part of my life.

Every day, our skin affects how we feel about ourselves, and also how we feel when we’re with other people. It impacts all parts of our lives, and can make our lives miserable.

When it comes to the causes of acne, there are more than just a few causes, some or all of which may apply to you. For some people, there’s perhaps one main cause, but for others, acne is caused by a combination of many factors.

And this can cause acne to affect us for many years, including into adulthood.

Some of the causes of acne can be avoided, but many can’t be. So finding and using a good acne treatment that works is most important, when it comes to controlling acne effectively.

Here are the common causes of acne:

Hormones. One of the number one causes of acne is the production of sex hormones, especially testosterone, in both guys and girls. This first happens during puberty and that’s why acne first happens in teenage years.

The sex hormones stimulate the production of sebum from the sebaceous glands in our skin, and this oil is shed along with dead skin cells and bacteria found on our skin. If our pores are blocked because of excessive oil, or uneven skin shedding or exfoliation, or both, the pores become blocked, and pimples will appear.

The production of hormones is a cause of acne in teenagers and adolescents, and also throughout adulthood, as these sex hormones are continued to be produced.

Stress. When a person is stressed, there’s an increased production of stress hormones including cortisol. These stress hormones causes many effects on the body including an increased oil production from our skin, and therefore outbreaks of pimples and acne

Diets. In some people, a diet high in sugar and oil can cause a flare up of their acne. In others there’s not as much of an effect with their diet. But in those that notice a difference, it’s important to avoid these refined foods, and to eat healthy, more natural foods that are not too high in sugar or oil.

Heavy moisturisers or make up. If make up, or even a heavy, oil based moisturiser is used, the pores of the skin can block up, causing a flare up in acne. It’s best to avoid make up if possible, and to use a light non oil based moisturiser if the weather is dry and you do need a moisturiser.

Over cleaning. If your skin is rubbed or scrubbed when you’re cleansing your skin, or if you use an abrasive exfoliating rub, oil production from the sebaceous glands is increased, and therefore can worsen your acne. So never rub or scrub, always treat the skin gently when cleansing.

Squeezing and picking. If you do this, you can actually cause more skin damage, especially with the deeper pimples. So avoid damaging your skin this way.

Environmental toxins and bacteria. Environmental pollution in our air can irritate our skin and contribute to inflammation, and hence make acne worse. The role of bacteria is an interesting one. It alone is not the cause of acne, but it interacts with the increased sebum in the skin to contribute to the inflammation seen in acne.

Genetics. In many cases, genetics play a role in causing acne. The tendency to have increased sebum production and to have skin sensitive to our hormones may be some of the inherited factors. Often a person with acne will know of a family member who has acne also.

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