Acne often is associated with adolescence, but the condition can affect people of all ages, including infants and adults.
The American Academy of Dermatology reports that acne develops when pores become clogged with oil and bacteria. Scientists are still trying to determine why certain people are more prone to developing acne than others, but hormones are a primary factor.
According to Acne.org, hormones are integral to the development of acne. This is why acne is so common during puberty, when hormones are raging in full effect. Inflammation also plays a role in the development of acne. The redness and soreness that occurs with acne is the result of inflammation.
Acne happens when hair follicles become blocked with oil and dead skin cells. As a result, whiteheads, blackheads or red pimples may form, says the Mayo Clinic. People who experience acne may suffer both emotional and physical effects. That’s because acne pimples are slow to go away, and when they do, new ones may form soon after. The visibility of acne can adversely affect self-esteem. However, acne also can cause scarring if lesions are picked at. That makes acne a potentially long-term physical issue.
Types of acne
The Mayo Clinic says acne may present itself in different ways.
· Whiteheads: Closed, blocked pores.
· Blackheads: Open, blocked pores.
· Papules: Small, red, tender bumps.
· Pimples: Papules with pus in their tips.
In addition, individuals may develop nodules, which are large, solid painful lumps under the skin. Painful, pus-filled lumps under the skin are called cystic lesions.
Myths about what causes acne
Hormones are a major contributor to the formation of acne, but there are other things that people mistakenly think cause acne. Stress is one of them. The AAD reports that stress will not cause acne, but it may worsen existing acne. Research indicates that when stress levels go up, so does the severity of acne.
Other factors may worsen acne, but not necessarily cause it. This includes getting insufficient sleep, using oily makeup and skin care products, and applying oily hair care products, like pomades.
Genetics may contribute to acne. People whose parents had severe acne may be more likely to develop it, as will those who have excess sebum (oil) production. Certain medications, like corticosteroids, testosterone or lithium, also may cause the formation of acne.
Although chocolate and greasy foods are often cited as culprits behind acne, they have little effect. Researchers are studying if carbohydrate-rich foods such as chips, bread and bagels may worsen acne.
Acne affects people of all ages. Early treatment can head off the more lasting effects of acne and alleviate some of the issues regarding self-esteem that arise from having acne.