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What Causes Acne?

Top 3 Factors that Cause Acne

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Updated April 16, 2014

What causes acne? We all know people who neglect their skin and rarely get a pimple. Others can diligently care for their skin and still fight against breakouts. Why are some people prone to acne while others are not?

There are three major factors that contribute to acne development, and they have nothing to do with skin care or lack thereof. The result of these factors coming together is a formation of acne breakouts. All three factors must be present in order for acne to occur.

1. Overactive Sebaceous Glands

Sebaceous glands create sebum, or oil, needed to lubricate the skin's surface. Those who are prone to acne have oil glands that produce more sebum than is necessary. Excess oil remains in the pore, blocking the sebaceous duct and creating a blockage within the follicle.

According to information by the International Dermal Institute, the sebum of those who suffer from acne is also different in its makeup. It has higher levels of squalene and wax esters than typical, with lower levels of free fatty acids, and linoleic acid. This composition creates a favorable environment for acne causing bacteria.

2. Abnormal Shedding of Skin Cells

The epidermis is constantly shedding dead skin cells through a process called desquamation. Dead skin cells fall away from the stratum corneum and are replaced by new cells. In acne prone skin this process goes awry, with four to five times more skin cells being produced than in normal skin.

There are also less Lamellar granules in the skin of acne sufferers. Lamellar granules are found within the cells of the stratum corneum. They are responsible for releasing enzymes that digest the substance that that holds cells together. Simply speaking, acne prone skin produces more dead skin cells than is typical, and the skin cells are not being shed properly. Instead, the cells remain suck inside the follicle creating a comedo.

3. Proliferation of Bacteria

Propionibacteria acnes
Photo courtesy of the CDC

Propionibacteria acnes (P. acnes) are bacteria routinely found on most skin. In those with acne the P. acnes population grows out of control. The plug of dead cells and oil within the pore creates an anaerobic environment where oxygen can't get into the pore. P. acnes thrive in this environment and their population grows.

The P. acnes digest the oil trapped within the pore, producing a fatty acid waste. This waste irritates the pore lining, causing redness and inflammation. It is important to recognize that cleansing cannot wash P. acnes away. Its presence does not point to a lack of hygiene in any way.

Watch the video: What To Know About How Pimples Are Caused

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