What Causes Acne?
The exact cause of acne is unknown,
but doctors believe it results from several related factors.
One important factor is an increase in hormones called
androgens (male sex hormones). These increase in both boys
and girls during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to
enlarge and make more sebum. Hormonal changes related to
pregnancy or starting or stopping birth control pills can
also cause acne.
Another factor is heredity or
genetics. Researchers believe that the tendency to develop
acne can be inherited from parents. For example, studies
have shown that many school-age boys with acne have a family
history of the disorder. Certain drugs, including androgens
and lithium, are known to cause acne. Greasy cosmetics may
alter the cells of the follicles and make them stick
together, producing a plug.
Factors That Can Make Acne Worse
Factors that can cause an acne flare
Changing hormone levels in
adolescent girls and adult women 2 to 7 days before
their menstrual period starts
Oil from skin products
(moisturizers or cosmetics) or grease encountered in the
work environment (for example, a kitchen with fry vats)
Pressure from sports helmets or
equipment, backpacks, tight collars, or tight sports
Environmental irritants, such as
pollution and high humidity
Squeezing or picking at blemishes
Hard scrubbing of the skin
Myths About the Causes of Acne
There are many myths about what
causes acne. Chocolate and greasy foods are often blamed,
but there is little evidence that foods have much effect on
the development and course of acne in most people. Another
common myth is that dirty skin causes acne; however,
blackheads and other acne lesions are not caused by dirt.
Stress doesn't cause acne, but research suggests that for
people who have acne, stress can make it worse.
Part 1: What is acne?
Part 2: What is acne? ...continued
Part 3: What causes acne?
Part 4: How is acne treated?
Part 5: How should I care for my skin?
Part 6: Current research for acne?
Source: Adapted from National
Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases