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The Why, Where, When, What And How Of Acne

What is acne?

Acne is a common skin condition. It occurs when the sebaceous glands get blocked with dead cells and sebum leading to the formation of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, pustules, or cysts (deep pimples). Anybody between 10 years and 40 years of age could get acne. They occur wherever there are many oil (sebaceous) glands, mainly on the face, chest, and back. You can cope with and fight acne if only you understood what really causes it and what doesn’t.

What causes acne?

Acne is not caused by one single factor. Acne happens when oil (sebaceous) glands come to life so to speak, which generally occurs at around puberty. That’s when these glands are stimulated by male hormones that are produced in the adrenal glands of people of both sexes. Oil glands, which are beneath the skin, produce and secrete oil through tiny openings in the skin. The oil lubricates and protects the skin.

Sometimes, cells that are close to the openings of the oil glands block these openings. This causes a buildup of oil below the skin. Bacteria, which live in everyone’s skin, feast on this oil, multiply, and cause surrounding tissues to become inflamed. If the inflammation is close to the surface, you get a pustule, if it’s deeper, a papule (pimple), and deeper still, you’d get a cyst. If the oil breaks though to the surface, the result is a “Whitehead”. If the oil becomes oxidized (that is, acted on by oxygen in the air), the oil changes from white to black, and the result is a “Blackhead”.

What doesn’t cause acne?

Well, you ought to know for sure, what does not cause acne:
Heredity
Most people don’t have the problem exactly the way their parents did. Besides, some degree of acne is almost universal.
Food
All over the world, parents tell teens to avoid pizzas, chocolates, greasy and fried foods, and junk food. While these foods may not be good for overall health, they don’t make acne worse.
Dirt
Oil is a natural secretion of the oil glands. “Blackheads” are oxidized oil, not dirt. Sweat from exercise, also doesn’t cause acne. Excessive washing can dry and irritate your skin.
Stress
Some people get so upset by their pimples that they pick at them constantly. That makes them last longer. Otherwise, stress doesn’t play much of a role in causing acne.
Hormones
Some women get acne cyclically, but most women (and all men) don’t. Likewise, hormone tests and treatments are not of much help.

Does acne become worse before periods?

Yes. Due to hormonal changes during menstruation, many women get acne two to seven days before their periods.

Does sweating affect acne?

Yes. Sweating could aggravate acne. This is because water swells the partial hair duct and causes a complete blockage leading to inflammation.

Do humid atmospheres make acne worse?

Yes. Humid climate or working in a kitchen could make acne worse. The hydration and swelling of the hair duct leads to inflammation.

What kind of clothes affect acne?

If there is constant pressure resulting from headbands, bra straps and collars, it could cause spots in those areas of the skin. This happens due to the localization of sweat in that area.

Which kind of cosmetics make acne worse?

Certain cosmetics could lead to blackhead formation in the skin. Avoid hair oils which induce blackheads and whiteheads along your hairline. Some people are sensitive to suntan lotions. Therefore, before using any suntan, it is better to test and find out if your skin is sensitive to it. Apply suntan on a small area of the chest and wait and see the reaction.

Does Pregnancy improve acne?

This might not be true for all women as a general rule. In some women, acne almost disappears, but may reappear at the end of pregnancy while in other women, it may just become worse.