What Causes Acne?
Acne origins are not very well known, but doctors believe acne results from several related factors. One important factor is an increase in hormones called androgens (male sex hormones). These increase in both boys and girls during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or starting or stopping birth control pills can also cause acne.
Another cause of acne is heredity or genetics. Researchers believe that the tendency to develop acne can be inherited from parents. For example, studies have shown that many school-age boys with acne have a family history of the disorder. Certain drugs, including androgens and lithium, are known to cause acne. Greasy cosmetics may alter the cells of the follicles and make them stick together, producing a plug. Although you may hear that acne is not caused by greasy skin, greasy sking can still cause a problem.
What makes acne flare up?
* Changing hormone levels in adolescent girls and adult women 2 to 7 days before their menstrual period starts
* Oil from skin products (moisturizers or cosmetics) or grease encountered in the work environment (for example, a kitchen with fry vats)
* Pressure from sports helmets or equipment, backpacks, tight collars, or tight sports uniforms
* Environmental irritants, such as pollution and high humidity
* Squeezing or picking at blemishes
* Hard scrubbing of the skin
Lies about acne
There are many myths about what causes acne. Chocolate and greasy foods are often blamed, but there is little evidence that foods have much effect on the development and course of acne in most people. Another common myth is that dirty skin causes acne; however, blackheads and other acne lesions are not caused by dirt. Stress doesn’t cause acne, but research suggests that for people who have acne, stress can make it worse and sometimes can make it worse within just a few hours.
What are acne treatments?
Acne is often treated by dermatologists (doctors who specialize in skin problems). These doctors treat all kinds of acne, particularly severe cases. Doctors who are general or family practitioners, pediatricians, or internists may treat patients with milder cases of acne.
The goals of treatment are to heal existing lesions, stop new lesions from forming, prevent scarring, and minimize the psychological stress and embarrassment caused by this disease. Drug treatment1 is aimed at reducing several problems that play a part in causing acne:
* abnormal clumping of cells in the follicles
* increased oil production
All medicines can have side effects. Some side effects may be more severe than others. You should review the package insert that comes with your medicine and ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about the possible side effects.
Depending on the extent of the problem, the doctor may recommend one of several over-the-counter medicines and/or prescription medicines. Some of these medicines may be topical (applied to the skin), and others may be oral (taken by mouth). The doctor may suggest using more than one topical medicine or combining oral and topical medicines.