Acne is mostly caused by the way skin reacts to hormonal changes. The skin contains sebaceous glands that naturally release sebum, an oily substance that helps protect it.
During puberty, raised levels of the hormone testosterone can cause too much sebum to be produced. This happens in both boys and girls.
The sebum can block hair follicles. When dead skin cells mix with the blockage, it can lead to the formation of spots. Bacteria in the skin multiply, which can cause pain and swelling (inflammation) beneath the blockages.
There are different kinds of spots:
- Blackheads – small, blocked pores
- Whiteheads – small, hard bumps with a white centre
- Pustules – spots with a lot of pus visible
- Nodules – hard, painful lumps under the skin
Inflammatory acne is when the skin is also red and swollen. This needs to be treated early to prevent scarring.
Try not to pick, break or squeeze spots as this can cause inflammation and lead to scarring. Spots will eventually go away on their own, but they might leave redness in the skin for some weeks or months afterwards.
Acne can become worse during times of stress. In women, it can be affected by the menstrual cycle. Sometimes acne can also occur during pregnancy.
If you have acne, wash your skin gently with a mild cleanser and use an oil-free moisturiser. Scrubbing or exfoliating can irritate the skin, making it look and feel sore.
There are several myths about what causes acne:
Many people say that eating chocolate or greasy food causes acne, but this isn’t true. There isn’t any evidence that acne is caused by what you eat. However, eating a balanced diet is good for your general health, so aim to have a healthy diet.
Some people believe that acne is caused by bad personal hygiene, but this is not true. If you are going to get acne, you will get it no matter how much you clean your skin. Too much cleaning may make the condition worse by removing the protective oils in your skin.
There is also a myth that wearing make-up can cause spots, but there is no evidence that this is the case. The less you touch your skin, the fewer bacteria will be spread to your skin. If you wear make-up, wash your hands before putting your make-up on and always remove it before going to bed.
Source – www.nhs.uk