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What Causes Acne?

Heredity/Genetics is an important factor in determining the size and activity of sebaceous glands and therefore the extent to which one will be affected by acne. Proving that your acne is hereditary can be difficult because your parents, your siblings and other close family members may have perfectly clear acne-free skin yet what you may not know is that your great-great-great grandmother suffered from acne and that could be why you also suffer from acne – it’s in the genes. The genetic disposition to acne seems to come with a serious unpredicatblity as to who will be burdened with the skin disease thereby explaining why everyone else in your family is acne-free except you.

Over-Productive Sebum Glands (oil) due to an increase in the levels of androgens, progesterone and other hormones typically associated with males such as testosterone. Oily skin in and of itself typically wouldn’t be such a problem except for the fact that the bacteria Propionibacterium Acnes loves to feast on the sebum and in the feeding process it creates highly inflammatory by-products which do lead to inflammation and more.

Propionibacterium Acnes, also known as P acnes bacteria, which produce toxic sub­stances that attack the follicle and eventually incite the follicle to rupture – causing acne. Bacteria was once thought to be the main culprit in acne production hence the common practice of prescribing antibiotics to acne sufferers. However recent scientific break-throughs in the study of the acne disease has led many medical professionals to believe that the bacteria alone isn’t to blame for acne. In fact, studies where conducted in which P Acnes bacteria were injected directly into the dermis – surprisingly acne did not form. Therefore, it is believed that the P Acnes bacteria probably exists in individuals without acne and individuals with acne. However as mentioned earlier, the P Acnes coupled with increased sebum production in addition to other factors such as genetic predisposition to follicular characteristics, follicular retention and hormonal changes can lead to the development of acne.

Hormones (Female Specific). Typically a woman who is not taking any hormone regulating medication will experience the following horomonal activity during the course of a normal menstrual cycle: At mid-cycle her estrogen levels reach their peak then decline as she nears her period. After ovulation, the ovaries begin to produce the hormone progesterone which as mentioned earlier will cause the sebaceous glands to begin producing sebum (oil) which in turn provides the food the P Acnes bacteria craves – which leads to acne. This seemingly never-ending cycle is a monthly nightmare for women suffering from hormonal acne. By the time the last blemish is about healed BAM – there we go again, back into the cycle of more acne.
Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) typically have acne triggered by hormones as one of many symptom of their disease. Visit WebMD for details on PCOS. A wonderful support and information site for women suffering from PCOS is SoulCysters.

Retention Hyperkeratosis, in laymen’s terms it refers to the rapid build up of cells in the follicles and the subsequent inability of the body to slough off those skin cells thereby creating a tough, glue-like substance leading to follicular blockage. Studies have found that individuals suffering from acne lack the necessary enzymes to break down the cellular glue that leads to the blockage. Since the follicle is blocked it provides the perfect “non-oxygenated” environment for P Acnes bacteria (P Acnes is anaerobic bacteria that can not survive when exposed to oxygen). Add the hormonally induced overproduction of sebum (oil) trapped in the follicle and you have all the ingredients needed for acne to develop.

Submitted by Ms. distressedDERMA on Tuesday, 18 March 2008


2 Responses to “What Causes Acne?”

  1. 1

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  2. 2

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