Recently, a friend developed an acne on the forehead and the reaction he got from people around him inspired this post. Even close friends quickly reached uninformed conclusions that further depressed the friend. It is then that I realized that there are numerous misconceptions about the causes of acne. If mismanaged, the condition can cause immense psychological distress!
Have you experienced a similar situation? Are you wondering whether that acne is as a result of your ignorance? Is it due to poor hygiene?
Well, these questions linger in the mind of most people suffering from acne.
This article will elaborate on the causes of acne thus demystifying all the myths.Read on to learn more!
Myths Associated With Causes of Acne
You may have heard of myths on what people believe causes acne.
While these beliefs are widespread, it is important that you understand that they are largely false. They include:
- Acne is a sign of skin cleaning inadequacies. Acne emerge even on the cleanest of skins! In fact, when you over wash your skin, you are raising the risk of developing acne significantly. Excessive cleaning and scrubbing of the skin will take away its natural oil which will result in a compensatory mechanism where the body will produce more oil. The overproduction of oil can lead to acne!
- Acne occurs among teenagers only. While teens are at a significantly high risk of developing acne, they are not a preserve for them. Up to 43% of adults develop acne during their adulthood stages.
- The sun helps in acne elimination. Exposing your acne to the sun will not help you resolve your problem. In fact, it may worsen it! The UV rays can damage your skin by instituting the release of free radicals which will further complicate your acne eradication efforts. Also, the two primary products used for fighting acne (salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide) make your skin susceptible to damage by the sun.
During acne treatment, you should avoid sunlight to accelerate the healing process. Alternatively, consider applying broad-spectrum sunscreen when using acne medications. Ensure that the sunscreen is non-comedogenic and oil-free to prevent blockage of skin pores.
- Popping accelerates the healing process. Never take any advice to pop your acne! It will backfire on you and result in ugly blemishes after the healing process. Also, the acne will take longer to heal since you’ll have exposed them to infections! If you really want the acne to disappear, then you should restrain every urge to pop it.
What are the Causes of Acne?
To help you understand what causes acne, I will take you through a simplified version of the skin anatomy.
You’ve installed a plastic pipe to help you fetch water from the sink to the basin. Unfortunately, there is a blockage somewhere along the pipe. What happens? Well, the water will not get into your basin. Instead, you’ll have an inflamed section of the pipe since the water continuously flow with no exit. If you are not careful, the water will build up and the inflamed part may burst! Well, this is exactly what happens to lead to an inflamed acne that you can see on the outer skin.
The skin has pores that are connected to oil glands (located under your skin) by follicles. These follicles are sacs that release and secrete a liquid.
The glands produce an oily substance called sebum which primarily transports the dead skin cells to the surface of the skin through the follicles (In essence, the follicle acts like the pipe in your house to transport sebum and dead skins to the skin)
If the follicles are blocked, oil and dead skin will build up leading to the development of acne on the surface of your skin.
What happens after the follicle blockage?
Well, the dead skin cells, the hair, and the sebum clump together forming a plaque and an ideal environment for bacterial infection. Once bacteria infect the site, swelling result leading to the acne.
Below are factors that can lead to blockage of the skin follicle and consequently result in or worsen the existing acne:
- Hormonal Changes. The rise of androgen levels in the body can lead to overgrowth of the oil glands leading to overproduction of sebum. Excessive oil on the skin can result in blockage of the pores and consequently result in acne. This factor explains why approximately 85% of adolescents develop acne before they are 20 years. Also, it is common among pregnant women and girls during their menstruation period due to immense variance in estrogen levels.
- Some Medications. Corticosteroids have an acne-causing effect. If you are using these medications and you’ve started developing acne, then you shouldn’t be bothered to look for any other cause! Some of these medications include prednisone used for treating chronic lung conditions, methylprednisolone, triamcinolone, betamethasone, and hydrocortisone. The medications lead to overproduction of sebum resulting in acne.
- Genetics. Well, this must be a shocker to you. Right? It is true that some individuals are prone to acne than others due to genetic factors. Still in doubt? There are numerous scientific studies that have proven the link between genetics and acne prevalence. Here, we will cite two; one study used 1099 pairs of fraternal twins and 458 pairs of identical twins to study acne prevalence in them. Surprisingly, the results intimated that genes explained 81% of acne prevalence while only 19% of acne were contributed by non-shared environmental factors. Another study established that having a first-degree relative that suffers from acne raises your chances of developing acne four folds. As such, genetics is a crucial factor that cannot be ignored!
- Use of the Wrong Cosmetics. Not every product will augur well with your skin. If you have a sensitive skin, you should always ensure that you use products that are labeled “non-comedogenic” to prevent the development of acne. Also, we advise that you stick to your regular cosmetic products to avoid harmful side effects as you switch to the new one.
Always wash off your makeups before sleeping!
- Over Exfoliating Your Skin. While the removal of skin debris is necessary to prevent the blockage of skin pores, you should avoid overdoing it. We recommend that you exfoliate it a maximum of two times a week. Also, ensure that you understand your skin type to help you when choosing the best scrubber for your skin. Exfoliators that are ideal for dry skin are not the best for oily skin or mixed skin. As such, you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions before selecting an exfoliator. This will help you to pick the best product for your skin.
When to See a Dermatologist
You should immediately visit your doctor if you realize an increase in the number of acne on your skin. If you’ve tried over-the-counter medications or other home remedies to no avail, you should discontinue their use and visit the doctor.
Ensure that you tell the dermatologist all the interventions you’ve put in place to eradicate the acne for an effective treatment process.
Acne is not caused by uncleanliness but rather by blockage of skin follicles due to overproduction of sebum. If you have acne already, avoid popping them or scrubbing them too hard since you will worsen the situation.
We recommend that you go through the list we’ve provided to identify the likely causes of your acne. If you find them, then discontinue their use and wait for results. In case the situation worsens, feel free to consult your doctor!