causes of acne

Acne bacteria really love an oily environment, as this diagram shows.

Are you suffering from acne?

Then having an understanding of the anatomy of acne is key.

Otherwise how can you begin to treat it successfully?

Many of my clients suffer from acne, so I can sympathise.

I understand how frustrating this skin condition can be, both on a physical and emotional level.

So lets dive right in, and learn more about the real causes of acne.


  • Inflammation
  • Bacteria proliferation
  • Follicular desquamation
  • Thickening of the outer layer of skin
  • Abnormalities in sebum production

These are just some of the ways acne presents itself in the skin


  • 85% of adults can experience it
  • The prevelance of comedogenic acne is almost 100%
  • Affect 8% of those between the ages of 25 and 34
  • Affects 3% of 35to 44 yer old’s
  • It can affect adolescent females earlier than males
  • Males get it more aggressively than females
  • Affects all races and ethnici
  • Those with darker skin, are at risk of developing post inflammatory hyper pigmentation in conjunction with acne


Our sebaceous glands are found all over the body, close to the surface of our skin.

Surrounding these glands is a basal membrane, and it is here that immature cells called sebocytes are formed.

Once these cell becomes detached from the basal membrane, they begin to collect lipids, this it does as it begins its journey towards the centre of the sebaceous gland, until it is almost completely converted into lipids.

Once full, the cell disintegrates and the lipids are expressed directly into the sebaceous gland, these secretions run up the hair shaft, through the sebaceous duct, coating the hair and the surface of the skin, mixing with other surface lipids.

These surface lipids help to create an ecosystem for the acid mantle, thus forming the skin’s defence barrier.

A large percentage of the lipids from the sebaceous glands are known as triglycerides.

P. Acnes Bacteria

As these triglycerides move up through the sebaceous duct to the skin’s surface, a change occurs in them, which is caused by the bacteria known as P.acnes bacteria.

Now this bacteria just loves oily environments….

The more oil that is produced, the more blocked our pores become and the more the bacteria thrives, as you can imagine, all of this causes a vicious cycle of inflammation, the only way to nip this cycle in the bud, is to treat it effectively.

How the acne condition is treated will all depend on the grade of acne, this requires specialist advise from a dermatologist.

Acne Treatment

GP’s often prescribe antibiotics as an acne treatment, in order to attempt to reduce the level of P. acnes bacteria in the skin.

This reduction helps to lower the rate of triglycerides, decreasing the inflammatory response.

The problem with antibiotics is that they only treat the symptoms and not the cause.

This will have a limited effect on the bacteria, and the P.acnes becomes resistant to antibiotics.

For hormonal acne treatment birth control is often prescribed, I recommend consulting with a dermatologist or doctor regarding any concerns you may have, especially if you are currently on medication.

Previously, we wrote about hormonal acne treatment, which you may find useful.

Fatty Acids

Because Free Fatty Acids are pro inflammatory, antibiotics are not very effective for treating hormonal acne either.

I feel it makes more sense to start the treatment targeting the Fatty Acids, rather than destroying or reducing them, as they play a role in the skin barrier defence.

The Naked Truth

In order to prevent acne from occurring in the first place, it is really important to keep the acid mantle and barrier function completely intact.

Regular facials and a good daily home care routine is key, in order to keep the sebaceous glands free of blockages and moving all the time, this will prevent the build up of excess keratinisation.

It is also best to avoid wearing make up, but if you feel you really can’t go without! Become familiar with the ingredients that go into formulations, so you know which comedogenic substances to avoid.

In order to live a life that is acne free, remember that we are all metabolically different, no two people will ever respond to a treatment in exactly the same way.

Treat your body holistically and become alert to any subtle changes within your skin, do as much research as you can on the subject, become your own physician.

Because ultimately no one knows your skin better than you.x

Before you begin I recommend familiarising yourself with the  article types of acne, which shows the classifications of acne as graded by dermatologists.

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