If you’ve been struggling to get rid of acne, you might have found yourself thinking…
What Is Acne and What Causes It?
The medical term for acne is Acne vulgaris, and unlike what it sounds like, vulgaris comes from the Latin term meaning “common”, not “hideous and vulgar.” Acne affects a large percent of the population and shouldn’t be as stigmatized as it is. Today I’m going to try to describe what in fact causes acne and how to prevent it (and newsflash- it’s not pizza or chocolate).
Acne vulgaris is a common human skin disease. Acne develops as a result of blocked hair follicles that appear as blemishes on the face, neck, shoulders, chest and back. Acne is most common during teen years, but it can affect you into your adult years.
To understand what causes Acne vulgaris, we need to first understand the process and function of the sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are your bodies way of keeping skin waterproof, moisturized and lubricated naturally. They exist just below the skin, adjacent to the hair follicle, and produce an oily or waxy substance called Sebum. Sebum travels up hair follicles and pores to reach the surface of your skin. Dead skin cells (keratin) also are carried by the sebum up through the hair follicle to be excreted from your body through your hair follicles. Normally this process is performed constantly and without issue and the dead skin cells and sebum are washed away with normal cleansing.
When the body produces too much sebum or dead skin cells, the hair follicle or pore can become blocked. This causes a plug called a microcomedo. If sebum continues to build up behind the plug, it will cause a visible comedone.
Inflammation (redness) and pus is the result an infection caused by bacteria getting a bit out of control. Bacteria is always on your skin, there are good and bad kinds of bacteria (bacteria that is always on your skin is called resident flora), but blocked pores filled with dead skin cells and sebum create a perfect environment for the bacteria on your skin to eat, flourish and grow and this causes inflammation. The bacteria called P. acnes is the main cause of pimples and pustules.
Factors that can cause acne:
So, what causes acne? Blocked hair follicles.
What blocks the follicle? Sebum and keratin.
How do you avoid the blockages? Consistent cleansing and removal of keratin, sebum and bacteria to keep those hair follicles open.
So, to avoid or treat acne, you have to treat the causes. Regular cleansing removes dead skin cells, excess sebum and opens up your hair follicles to prevent blockages and acne. A cleanser will remove the things that block your pores – an exfoliant will remove dead skin layers and buff away blockages that may already exist, with the added benefit of smoother, healthier looking skin. Different kinds of acne medications and treatments work to kill the bacteria that causes the infection, or to dry up sebum and infections or by removing the layers of skin to reveal the younger and non-clogged skin below.
Miss C xoxo