Anatomy of the Skin
First, let’s talk about the anatomy of the skin. Skin is composed of two layers: the epidermis, which is the superficial layer, and the dermis, or the deeper layer. In the epidermis, there are very small holes all over, called pores. The pores are not really holes in the true sense of the word. They are actually hair follicles that hold very fine hair. The hairs are, in turn, attached to a sebaceous gland.
A gland is something that produces or excretes a substance. The sebaceous gland produces a greasy, oily substance called sebum. Sebum helps out moisturize the skin. Sebum reaches the skin surface with the help of the hair follicles. Each hair follicle is streaked with cells called keratinocytes or dead skin cells.
How Acne Develops
Puberty is the period when hormonal activities reach overdrive. A certain hormone, called testosterone, promotes the production of sebum. The additional sebum content, added with the presence of hair and keratinocytes, block the hair follicle. Plugging of the hair follicle is the earliest indicator of acne. This prevents sebum from reaching the skin surface. The combination of oil and dead skin cells provides a breeding ground for bacteria.
The presence of bacteria alerts the white blood cells. These are the disease-fighting cells in the body. The white blood cells attack, causing inflammation: the skin is hot to touch; there is also swelling, redness, and pain.
Shortly, the hair follicle breaks down. Its contents – oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria – are released directly on the skin surface. The discharge then forms into acne or pimples.
Causes of Acne
There is no single cause that is directly attributed to the development of acne. However, there are multiple factors present which contribute to acne formation.
Hormonal changes in puberty can trigger the sebaceous gland to produce more sebum. Androgens, a hormone present in both males and females, act as the stimulants for sebum secretion.
– Excess oil
Too much oil can block the hair follicles, leading to clogging, and eventually acne.
– Dead skin cells
These cells are naturally shed by the skin. Some cells, however, mix with the extra sebum, and cap up the hair follicles.
Bacteria contribute to acne formation when mixed in with the already plugged follicles. To fight them, the body sets of a reaction known as inflammation.
Some brands are comedogenic which means that they are likely to cause acne. Avoid these types of make-up and go for non-comedogenic brands instead.
Bear in mind that these causes are on a personal basis. What can cause acne for you may not cause acne for another. When treating your acne, it is essential to have an individualistic view. Examine all the possible causes, find the accurate treatment, and monitor your treatment response. Now that you have an idea about origin of acne, you can generate better ideas on how to fight it, too.