The True Cause of Acne
Acne, or acne vulgaris, is a skin condition characterized by bumps, pimples, nodules and other types of acne lesions that can occur on the skin anywhere on the body. Though it strikes teenagers most often, acne can affect men and women at any age. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne is the skin condition that occurs most frequently in the United States. There are a number of different causes of acne--though there are many misconceptions about its true causes.
Acne occurs when oil clogs the pores in the skin--and it gets worse when bacteria are trapped in there. If you've got naturally oily skin, you're already more likely to develop acne. Not properly cleaning your skin can allow oil to build up and cause pimples, says the AAD. Wearing heavy, greasy cosmetics and skin care products can also clog pores and cause acne.
Fluctuating hormone levels can also cause acne, and although teenagers get the most attention for their changing hormone levels, adults can deal with it too. Hormone changes during puberty, a woman's menstrual cycle, menopause and pregnancy can all cause acne. Stopping birth control pills (which contain hormones) can also cause an acne breakout.
According to the AAD, stress is another suspected cause of acne, particularly in women. Women who suffer from high stress levels are more likely to deal with acne, likely because of an increased production of androgens (hormones), which make glands in the skin crank out more sebum (oil).
Though the relationship isn't really understood, one potential cause of acne is genetics. According to the AAD, a family history of acne is a strong predictor for the skin condition, as about half of all people with acne have a relative who also have it.
There are several myths or rumors about what causes acne--commonly, that it's caused by poor hygiene. While good skin care and regular cleansing is important to get rid of excess oil, acne doesn't occur because of dirt on the skin, says the AAD. Eating junk foods--chocolate or lots of greasy foods--is a common, yet incorrect, theory on the cause of acne. Diet doesn't play a role in what happens on your skin. But, eating greasy foods can leave some oily residue on your face, which the AAD says could contribute to clogged pores and acne.
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