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February 25, 2016 | Dermatology
If you deal with the occasional whitehead, blackhead, or pimple, you’re in good company. Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It affects up to 50 million Americans every year and approximately 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne.
The AAD points out that acne is sometimes more than just an inconvenient embarrassment: “Acne often causes significant physical and psychological problems such as permanent scarring, poor self-image, depression, and anxiety.”
Take heart in the Mayo Clinic’s reassurance that “early, effective treatment of acne reduces the risk of scarring and of lasting damage to your self-esteem.”
Acne is caused by many factors that affect the skin. When overactive sebaceous glands produce too much oil that combines with dead skin cells, pores become plugged and bacteria on the skin multiplies, causing the infected and inflamed eruptions.
Let’s look at ten of the most common causes of acne:
When androgens rise in both boys and girls during puberty, the sebaceous glands under the skin enlarge and produce more sebum or oil. Too much sebum damages the pore’s cellular walls and allows bacteria to grow. Hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy, and the use of oral contraceptives can all affect sebum production and cause acne to develop or recur.
There is major evidence for a genetic influence on acne. The condition does run in families, and if both of your parents had acne, you’re likely to develop it, too.
Makeup, moisturizing creams, lotions, and hair products that contain pore-clogging sulfates, mineral oil, coconut and cocoa butter, and silicones can encourage the blocking of your skin’s pores. Look for non-comedogenic, oil-free, and unscented cosmetics, toiletries, and sunscreens. Harsh chemicals in laundry detergent can also irritate sensitive skin.
Psychological and emotional stress directly affect the levels of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, making acne worse. These stress hormones stimulate your oil glands to make testosterone that increases oil production and clogs pores.
Drugs that contain androgens, corticosteroids, or lithium can make acne worse.
Although for a long time we thought that eating greasy foods and chocolate caused acne, recent research finds a direct link between a high glycemic/high dairy diet and acne. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found an association between acne and diets high in dairy products, sweets, rice, bread, potatoes, and pasta.
When your smooth face rubs against a prickly beard or mustache, it causes friction that stimulates oil production on your face. You risk both blemishes and beard burn.
When you try to burst a pimple, it’s easy to push the bacterial infection further down and spread it underneath your skin. This just causes more blocking, swelling, and redness, multiplying your pimples. It also makes scarring more likely.
Sunburns cause your skin to dry out, which triggers the production of more oil to compensate. Excessive oil leads to more acne.
Frequent touching of your face or exposing it to repeated friction can aggravate acne. Cellphones, hoodies, hats, helmets, tight collars, and your own hands can all cause sweat and bacteria to get trapped against your skin, clogging pores and producing pimples.
The resolution of acne takes time. There are no instant cures, but topical medications and oral antibiotics are usually effective in managing most cases of acne. Revere Health Dermatology has three locations to better serve you.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.