Posted on October 26th, 2010
When you talk about acne we're talking about clogged skin pores, or deep lumps on our face, chest, back, neck, shoulders and upper arms. These may be called whiteheads, blackheads, cysts or nodules. If you are a teenager you're probably going to get acne. In fact, you could get it even if you're as old as 40 something. While it won't threaten your life, it could upset your life by disfiguring you permanently. Even acne that's not severe could end up doing that.
Hormones that change during the start of puberty are the reason you get acne. Sebaceous (oil glands) work overtime during this time in your life. They are generally reacting to androgens, a male hormone. Females have androgens too, though not as men as guys.
A sebaceous follicle - a hair shaft inside your sebaceous gland - is the culprit. When you are in puberty the cells of your skin lining these sebaceous follicles start to shed more than when you were younger. If these cells stick together as they shed oil increasingly it probably is going to plug up the opening of the sebaceous follicle. The oil keeps building up, though, and with no way to get out it just makes that follicle swell up. This is an acne lesion.
Bacteria exists normally in your skin and one bacterium called P.acnes multiplies more than it usually does if a hair follicle gets clogged. This is irritating to your skin and often inflames it. It can even make the follicle burst which then inflames other skin around that follicle. What results then are acne pimples, nodules and blackheads, commonly referred to as lesions.
You may have heard some myths about acne, most of which are probably false. If you heard, for instance, that not having proper hygiene will cause acne, you heard wrong. If you believe this you could end up over washing your face or being too harsh in scrubbing it and you'll make the acne worse. Surface dirt and oil aren't the causes of acne. While you certainly don't want to leave dirt and excess oil on your skin its removal needs to be gentle, with light scrubbing and washing twice a day. Then you should simply pat it dry, again gently. You certainly can try one or several of the over the counter acne treatments or see your dermatologist if the acne is severe or the over the counter treatments haven't worked for you.
No matter what you've heard, stress is not an acne contributor. Normal every day stress will not cause acne. While excess stress might take you to a doctor for a prescription to calm you or help you deal with your depression and that medication might irritate your skin, the stress is never the cause for the onset or exacerbation of acne. Of course, if the medicine seems to be the culprit tell your doctor.
The third acne myth about acne is that what you eat affects your acne - that things like chocolate or pizza or fried foods can create acne or make it worse. Or that avoidance of such foods will keep you acne free or make it go away. This is not so. Yes, a balanced diet is good for you, but it won't affect your acne.
Folks might also tell you that your acne isn't a problem to worry a lot about because it is only cosmetic. Acne, however, can hurt the way you feel about yourself, and it can leave lasting scars both physically and emotionally. In spite of what some people might say to you, that is a serious consequence of acne.