What causes acne?
Acne is basically a problem having to do with inflammation, irritation, congestion or even infection around hair follicles.
I thought that acne involved oil glands and skin pores – why focus on hair follicles?
Everything centers around a hair. Basically, there is one skin pore for every hair on your body. And there a lot more hairs on your body than you think – about 5 million, the same as an ape, but the majority of yours are so fine they are practically invisible.
But there’s more – each hair also has an oil (sebaceous) gland and a sweat (apocrine) gland nearby. And the sweat and oil glands do not open directly onto the surface of the skin; their secretions follow the hair-shaft through the follicle canal.
Acne is caused when a follicle canal, or the oil gland itself, gets blocked by a plug of oil (sebum), dead skin cells and/or fibrous hair protein (keratin). This plug may enlarge to become a blackhead or whitehead.
Note that bacteria is not the cause of this process. However, the process leaves the plugged pore vulnerable to bacterial infection, especially by propionibacterium acnes, which leads to redness and pimples.
So what’s the best way to prevent all this?
The problem usually originates from within due to increased oil production, especially during adolescence or somewhat later. This has to be accepted to some degree, because it is a natural part of hormonal balances.
However, there is a lot that you can do:
- Healthy eating and exercise. For example, excessive consumption of starchy and sugary foods, or of iodized salt, can cause an acne breakout even in adults.
- Wash your face twice a day or whenever it becomes dirty or greasy.
- Avoid skin and hair products that are oily or greasy, or that may clog your pores. Look for products labeled “noncomedogenic” or “non-occlusive.” Both terms mean that the product supposedly will not contribute to clogging your pores.
And skin and hair products are another potential cause of adult acne, as well.
- To avoid exacerbating latent acne or incipient acne symptoms, use clean towels and change your pillowcases. If possible, hang them in the sun between washings – the UV radiation of the sun is an excellent germ-killer.
What if I do all these things, and I get acne anway?
Don’t get discouraged. Acne treatment has come a long way in the past couple decades. You can try over the counter remedies – certain of these may help, but be aware that some can irritate the skin and cause further problems.
At Innovative Vein, we’ve treated many different types of acne successfully by diagnosing each case individually and applying the right treatment for each case. We offer many treatment modalities, including new options such as laser and light therapy.