Acne forms when dead skin cells don’t shed properly, but instead collect in the pores and plug them. Then, sebaceous oils produced by skin accumulate under the plug. At this point a pimple is not yet visible, but comedone (future pimple) is already formed. There are two ways comedone can develop into acne: oils can push the plug to the skin surface and you get a blackhead (open comedone) or plug can stay in the pore and bacteria commonly found on skin surface causes swelling and inflammation around it and you have your whitehead (closed comedone).
There is no single cause of acne, but
there is a number of contributing factors:
Genetics: if someone in your family has acne it increases your chances of getting it too. Unfortunately, there is no way to control this one.
Hormonal changes: hormones affect skin shedding and production of oil. This is why teenagers and women are more likely to develop acne.
Stress: it can increase levels of cortisol, which in turn increases oil production and slows down healing process, thus making our skin more prone to acne. Not getting sufficient amount of sleep may have similar effect.
Diet: foods high in iodine, such as shell fish and soy sauce, may cause acne. Some studies found that hormones commonly found in milk also may cause acne.
Excessive sun exposure: UV rays promote skin shedding and oil production, thus increasing likelihood of forming comedones.
Comedogenic skin care products: some make up / skin care products contain ingredients that may clog pores, thus promoting acne.
Medications: some medications may cause/aggravate acne.
Bottom line: most of these factors alone are not likely to cause acne, but each one increases your chances of getting it. The good news is that there are many treatment options. I will discuss them in the future posts.