Reasons for Acne Breakouts
Teenagers aren't the only ones who deal with acne. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, the skin condition affects adults and even babies, and includes blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, papules and inflamed lesions. Most acne responds to a routine of regular, gentle cleansing, though cases of severe or persistent acne may necessitate a trip to a dermatologist.
Your sebaceous glands create sebum. This oily substance travels through hair follicles to the surface of your skin. When dead cells and bacteria keep sebum from reaching the surface, it plugs the hair follicle, the area swells and acne breakouts erupt.
The bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes, plays a key role in the development of acne breakouts. An article in "American Family Physician" by Betty Anne Johnson and Julia R. Nunley claims that people with acne have increased amounts of P. acnes, and that the enzymes produced by P. acnes cause most of the inflammation associated with acne.
Hormones contribute to acne problems, one of the reasons the condition is so common to teenagers. Increased levels of androgens such as testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and estrogen can lead to breakouts because androgens control the production of sebum.
Oily or greasy makeup, hair products, lotions, cleansers and sunscreens contribute to acne by clogging your pores. The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health recommend using products that are non-comedogenic and water-based. Thoroughly cleanse skin of all makeup before going to bed, and keep strands of hair from touching your face. The oil or products on your hair can irritate your skin.
Some medications trigger acne breakouts. Corticosteroids provide relief for pain and inflammation, but one of their side effects results is increased acne. The McKinley Health Center provides a list of breakout-producing medications, including lithium, iodine, bromides, androgen, progestin-dominant birth control pills and barbiturates.
Many myths exist about the causes of acne. Contrary to popular belief, eating junk food--including chocolate--does not lead to breakouts, nor does stress. While poor hygiene can lead to clogged pores, having acne doesn't necessarily mean you have poor hygiene. The National Women's Health Information Center warns that harsh or frequent washing makes acne worse.
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