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Acne Advice GuideWhat Causes Acne? - Acne Advice Guide - Doctor Fox

What Causes Acne?

What Causes Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that affects pretty much everyone at some stage in their life. Often misconstrued as something that only affects teenagers, acne is very common in adults too. For those who suffer from a mild form of acne, it can be irritating and embarrassing. For people who suffer from a more severe form of acne, it can often have a profound and debilitating effect on their lives.

But whether you’ve suffered from it in your teens, all your life, or are experiencing it for the first time, there is plenty of help and advice for you to cope with it. From the top treatments to sound advice and emotional support, you’re not alone when it comes to tackling the trouble of acne – we’re in it together.


What causes acne?

Acne is caused when hair follicles – tiny holes in the skin that hairs grow out of – become blocked. Sebaceous glands are miniscule glands near the skin’s surface that lubricate the skin and hair and stop them drying out by producing an oily substance called sebum.

Acne occurs when these glands produce an excessive amount of sebum, which then mixes dead skin cells and forms a plug in the follicle.  If the plugged follicle is close to the skin’s surface it results in a whitehead; if it’s open to the skin it will create a blackhead.

Very often other harmless bacteria that live on the skin can contaminate the plugged follicles and result in nodules, pustules, papules or cysts.

Acne most commonly appears on the face but it can also occur on the back and chest, and occasionally on the buttocks and other places.


What triggers acne?

Acne in teenagers

Most of us are familiar with the image of the pimple-ridden teenager, and teenage acne is triggered by a boost in the hormone, testosterone. This hormone plays a crucial role in the development and growth of the penis in boys and bone strength and muscle in girls.

The sebaceous glands are particularly sensitive to hormones, and it’s widely believed that a boost in testosterone levels causes the glands to generate more sebum than the skin actually needs.

Acne is also believed to be a hereditary condition – so if your parents suffered from it, chances are you will too.

Acne in adults

Adult acne is a condition more women suffer from than men, although men are not entirely immune.  The reality is that over 80% of adult acne occurs in women, the cause primarily being attributed to significant changes in hormone levels.  This can be linked to periods, pregnancy, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Adult acne can also be caused by the side effects of certain medications, such as steroid medication and lithium (used to treat bipolar disorder and depression).

Don’t let acne put your life on hold. Check out Dr Fox’s acne FAQ and range of medications and antibiotics so you can put your mind at ease.