What causes acne?
This is a question on many of my clients lips.
Sadly there is not a straight forward answer.
Simply because so much is going on within the skin.
So join me, as I identify the causes of acne, so you can learn how to treat it effectively.
But before I begin I need to set the record straight.
That level of oiliness you see in your skin is hereditary.
Thats right, the number, size and productivity of your sebaceous gland that produces sebum (oil) is determined by your genetics.
And whilst it’s true that hormones play a role in your oiliness levels, even your hormonal activity is influenced by hereditary factors.
SEBACEOUS GLAND ANATOMY
Sebaceous glands are found all over your body close to the skins surface, a membrane surrounds all of these glands which is where immature cells called sebocytes are formed.
Now these cells are pretty active and as detach from the membrane and journey to the centre of the sebaceous gland they collect oil until they are almost completely converted into lipids.
When the cells get full they disintegrate and all those lovely lipids are expressed directly into the sebaceous gland and up through the follicle coating the skin and hair,
All of this mixes with other surface lipids, to create a wonderful defence system on the surface known as the acid mantle.
SO WHAT CAUSES ACNE
Well as if that is not enough, oily acne prone skin types do not shed cells from the skins surface, or from the lining of the follicle in the same way as normal skin does.
In a normal follicle old cells are brought to the surface and shed via the hair shaft, the oil glands help orchestrate this turnover by keeping your skin lubricated so that old cells can move up and shed off.
Instead with an acneic skin, a pile up of dead skin cells occurs technically this is referred to as hyperkeratosis which literally means cell build up.
When the cells build up in the follicle they thicken the lining causing congestion, which results in the formation of blocked pores, black heads and other impactions.
Sebum coats the build up of cells in the follicle walls which also oxidises and hardens into a mass of oil and dead cells, they then become sticky clogging the follicle, causing a vicious cycle in the skin:
- The more oil that produced the more blocked the follicle becomes,
- The more bacteria thrives
- This causes inflammation, pimples and black heads, and
- If squeezed this sets off a whole cycle of infection, which is due to bacterial activity within the skin.
Obviously the only way to nip this cycle in the bud, is to treat it effectively.
But again there is another set back, before you can do that effectively, you need to know the grade of acne your treating.