Acne is a common skin condition that mostly affects individuals between the ages 12 and 16 (puberty age), though, it can also occur at any age. In the US alone, up to 50 million Americans struggle with acne every year and at least 85% of people in the US experience acne between the ages of 12 and 24.
What is Acne?
Acne vulgaris is the medical term for the common acne. It is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that appears when the hair follicles are clogged with oil, bacteria, dirt, and dead skin cells. Although it is not life-threatening, it can be painful and it can leave permanent scars. Moreover, it can also affect one’s mental and emotional health and can lead to stress, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
The skin contains pores that connect to the oil (sebaceous) glands underneath the skin. The follicle is made up of a hair and a sebaceous gland. The oil gland, by its name alone, is responsible for producing sebum (oil) that keeps the skin soft and well-lubricated.
However, when one or more problems in the lubrication process happen, it can cause acne. Below are four main factors that cause acne:
- Excessive oil production by the sebaceous (oil) gland
- Hair follicles are clogged by oil and dead skin cells
- Bacteria build up in the pores
- Excessive activity of androgens
Factors That May Worsen Acne
Below are some factors that may trigger or worsen acne:
- Hormones: Increase in androgen levels can cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum, which can trigger acne formation. Moreover, high androgen levels can trigger acne by causing some changes in the skin cell activity, inflammation, and colonization of Propionibacterium Acnes in the hair follicles.
- Certain medications: Examples include birth control pills, corticosteroids, lithium or testosterone.
- Diet: Studies suggest that a diet that is rich in refined carbohydrates and sugar can trigger and worsen acne. Examples of these foods include white bread, bagels, pasta, cereals, white rice, potato chips, and energy bars. Milk, especially skim milk can also promote acne by increasing glucose and insulin levels, which can trigger the eruption of acne.
- Stress: Stress can trigger breakouts and it can make acne worse.
- Genetic f