Acne is caused when tiny holes in the skin, known as hair follicles, become blocked.
Sebaceous glands are tiny glands found near the surface of your skin. The glands are attached to hair follicles, which are small holes in your skin that an individual hair grows out of.
Sebaceous glands lubricate the hair and the skin to stop it drying out. They do this by producing an oily substance called sebum.
In acne, the glands begin to produce too much sebum. The excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells and both substances form a plug in the follicle.
If the plugged follicle is close to the surface of the skin, it bulges outwards, creating a whitehead. Alternatively, the plugged follicle can be open to the skin, creating a blackhead.
Normally harmless bacteria that live on the skin can then contaminate and infect the plugged follicles, causing papules, pustules, nodules or cysts.
Teenage acne is thought to be triggered by increased levels of a hormone called testosterone, which occurs during puberty. The hormone plays an important role in stimulating the growth and development of the penis and testicles in boys, and maintaining muscle and bone strength in girls.
The sebaceous glands are particularly sensitive to hormones. It's thought that increased levels oftestosterone cause the glands to produce much more sebum than the skin needs.
Acne can run in families. If your parents had acne, it's likely that you'll also develop it.
One study has found that if both your parents had acne, you're more likely to get more severe acne at an early age. It also found that if one or both of your parents had adult acne, you're more likely to get adult acne too.
More than 80% of cases of adult acne occur in women. It's thought that many cases of adult acne are caused by the changes in hormone levels that many women have at certain times.
These times include:
Other possible triggers of an acne flare-up include:
Despite being one of the most wide spread skin conditions, acne is also one of the most poorly understood. There are many myths and misconceptions about it: "Acne is caused by a poor diet". "Acne is caused by having dirty skin and poor hygiene". "Squeezing blackheads, whiteheads and spots is the best way to get rid of acne"
Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that's hot or painful to touch. Acne is most common in girls from the ages of 14to 17, and in boys from the ages of 16to 19. Most people have acne on and off for several years before their symptoms start to improve as they get older.
Teenage acne is thought to be triggered by increased levels of a hormone called testosterone, which occurs during puberty. More than 80% of cases of adult acne occur in women. It's thought that many cases of adult acne arecaused by the changes in hormone levels that many women have at certain times.
Your GP will be able diagnosis acne by looking at your skin. This will involve examining your face, chest and back for the different types of spot. How many spots you have and how painful and inflamed they are will help determine how severe your acne is. This is important in planning your treatment.
Treatment for acne depends on how severe it is. It can take several months of treatment before acne symptoms improve. If you just have a few blackheads, whiteheads and spots, you should be able to treat them successfully with over-the-counter gels or creams (topical treatments) that contain benzoyl peroxide. See your GP if your acne is more widespread, as you probably need prescription medication.
Acne scarring can sometimes develop as a complication of acne. This is more common when the most serious types of spots burst and damage nearby skin. Once subscision has been completed, additional treatment, such as laser treatment and dermabrasion, can be used to further improve the appearance of the scar.
The self-help techniques that may be useful: Don't wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse. Wash the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse. Don't try to "clean out" blackheads or squeeze spots. This can make them worse and cause permanent scarring . Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics.