It’s ugly. It’s gross. More importantly, it’s agonizingly painful. There’s a reason it’s called “common acne”. Nearly everyone suffers from a pimple outbreak at some point in life.

Although acne is mainly a curse of adolescence, about 20% of all cases occur in adults.

Acne usually begins during puberty between the ages of 10 and 13. It tends to be worse in people with oily skin. Teenage acne usually lasts for five to 10 years, normally gone during the early 20s.

Teenage boys tend to have the most severe of cases while women tend to have mild to moderate acne in their 30s.

Acne is most common on the face, but they do occur on the neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms.

Acne isn’t caused by a harmful diet, poor hygiene, or an uncontrolled sex drive. The simple truth is that heredity and hormones are behind most forms of acne, contrary to popular belief.

Cutting off chocolate or scrubbing your face 100 times a day won’t stop acne.

What Causes Acne?

There many factors that contribute to acne, but not one of them could be held accountable alone.

Acne in teenagers occur because of hormones. During puberty, both boys and girls produce high levels of androgens, the male sex hormones that include testosterone.

Testosterone signals the body to make more sebum, the oil produced in the skin’s oil glands.

Excess sebum clogs the openings to hair follicles, specifically on the face, neck, chest, and back. Bacteria grow in these clogged follicles. This causes blackheads or whiteheads, known as ”comedones,” to form on the skin’s surface.

The clogging sometimes causes the breaking of the follicle wall due to the pressure of this buildup. The sebum then leaks into surrounding tissues, forming pustules or  papules. This is called inflammatory acne. Larger, tender pustules are known as nodules.

Oral contraceptives may trigger or suppress acne in women. Injectable contraceptives and intrauterine birth control devices (IUD) may also cause acne. Steroids taken by bodybuilders often leads to severe outbreaks.

Acne has many subtypes. Acne neonatorum and acne infantum affects newborns and infants occasionally, usually boys. A pimply rash appears on the face and usually clears within weeks with no lasting effect. However, acne infantum may last longer, be more severe, and cause scarring.

People who escaped their teen years almost pimple-free may develop adult acne as they get older. Its normal for androgen levels to be increased during puberty, however doctors believe that breakouts have higher chances from skin reacting from increased sebum production or to the bacteria that causes acne and less to do with androgen levels itself.

What you can do

Simple actions like washing your face with specific facial wash, sleeping early, and reducing stress are keys to preventing a breakout. This isn’t absolute however. If you’re still suffering with acne, the best solution would be to see a dermatologist. Most dermatologists are versatile and have great knowledge for all skin types to deal with the issue.

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