What causes acne?

By Brendon Lye

Despite there being over 600 million acne sufferers around the globe the cause of acne hasn’t been narrowed down to any one simple thing.  Frustrating isn’t it!! But it’s not from lack of trying and the scientific community continue to work on understanding and finding new ways to treat acne.
Here’s what’s known at present:

The Causes of Acne

  1. Acne is partly linked to Genetics. Sorry guys but if your Mum, Dad or sibling suffered from acne then you’re more likely to face problems at some point
  2. Bacteria. The p. acnes bacteria species is commonly associated with causing the inflammatory acne.  It’s not a simple relationship because both acne sufferers and our clear skinned counterparts all have p. acnes on our skin!
  3. Clogged pores.  Everybody sheds skin cells and grows new skin but for some of us the old skin cells don’t always flake away nicely but hang around and cause pores to get blocked.  The skin’s oily secretions (sebum) and some bacteria can be trapped in these blocked pores.
  4. Sebum.  Again, the skin is supposed to produce this oily secretion but the more it makes the more chance there is of it getting trapped in pores and promoting bacterial inflammation.
  5. Hormones.  These biochemicals are essential for growth and development but the surge of sex hormones at puberty can cause an increase in sebum production and growth of skin cells.  For women, your monthly hormonal cycle can cause cyclic breakouts and pregnancy hormones can also cause issues. Don’t forget to hug your girlfriend! Stress hormones can have similar effects. Again hugs are recommended!
  6. High Glycaemic Index foods. More evidence is accumulating to suggest that the insulin response to high glycaemic index foods may lead to increased sebum production.
  7. Dairy foods. The link between these and acne is less clear.  Standard dairy foods contain lactose which makes them a fairly high glycaemic index food.  Dairy foods also contain IgF (insulin-like growth factor) which is thought to stimulate sebum production also.

How Acne Treatments Work

Most of the treatments currently available really only target one of these causes. Because each of us is a genetic individual we all respond slightly differently to available treatments and not everyone will get the same results from every treatment option.

Dietary changes can help control sebum production and healthy cell growth. Unprocessed foods, fruits and vegetables are your friends!

Topical therapies usually target either reduction of bacteria or exfoliating the skin.

Oral antibiotics reduce the inflammation caused by bacteria.

Oral contraceptives or anti-androgen treatments keep hormones in check to reduce sebum output and skin cell turnover.

Isotretinoin shrinks sebum producing glands thereby reducing sebum output.  It is also thought to have action on skin cell turnover and reduce inflammation.

A treatment system such as EPIOLOGY can target more than one of the causal mechanisms giving the best chance for topical therapy success.  EPIOLOGY is also a good complementary treatment alongside the more powerful prescription products as it counteracts their drying, irritating effects to keep skin moisturised and soothed.

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