Acne – Causes & Treament
Acne is a common skin problem which mostly affects young people, typically girls between 14 and 17 and boys between 16 and 19 years old. So for most it is transitory in nature and with some simple skin care acne shouldn’t be too bothersome. But for some, acne can become very severe or become long standing well into adulthood or both!
Acne can result in blackheads, white heads and larger spots and even boils. Severe acne which causes boils may require antibiotics to treat it. The mechanism by which acne is caused is very simple – but without understanding the acne mechanism you will be unsuccessful at curing it.
What causes acne?
In simple terms, acne is caused by a combination of factors which are the result of changes in hormone levels. Changes in the levels of male hormones – or androgens – during puberty disrupt the sebaceous glands in the skin causing an over production of sebum. But that isn’t the whole picture. After all some people have oily skin and don’t get acne! The other factor which determines the formation of acne is the cellular turnover of the epidermis, that is the cellular renewal – or in other words, how quickly the cells in the epidermis are pushed to the surface and then shed. Again this is regulated by hormonal activity and the smooth operation of cellular renewal becomes disrupted as hormone levels change during puberty.
The skin renewal cycle means that cells move up through the epidermis and are shed once they reach the top layer (the stratum corneum). As they move up through the epidermis cells change. They gradually lose moisture, become flatter and become more keratinised. (Keratin is the protein which makes up the outer epidermis and also the nails and hair).
This keratinisation also happens within the sebaceous gland. It is this process of keratinisation which can block the opening of the sebaceous gland. Minor blockage might cause comedones (blackheads) or whiteheads but blockage deeper down in the gland will cause deeper inflammation and infection which are the characteristics of cystic acne. It is a fallacy that dirt and bacteria block pores. It is simply dead keratinised skin cells which then lead to a build up of bacteria inside the sebaceous gland. This is due to natural skin bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) acting upon an abundance of sebum trapped below the skin surface.
This is also why simply washing with antibacterial soaps and cleansers doesn’t work! Whilst antibacterial washes may offer a little control over the bacteria on the skins surface, it can’t eradicate it and once that bacteria is in the sebaceous gland it can feast away and it is protected by the build up of keratin blocking the gland.
As the bacteria feasts on your sebum, it secretes toxins which trigger an immune response. Typically this immune response means that white blood cells rush to the area and attack the bacteria. The resulting dead white blood cells, dead bacteria and toxins are what makes the pus within the cyst or boil. The deeper into the sebaceous gland the keratinisation has begun, the more the likelihood of deep cysts and boils forming.
Acne can persist well into adulthood or even appear out of the blue during pregnancy, after childbirth or during the menopause in women as these are typically times when the hormone balance is in flux.
Some people may even seem to have quite dry skin and have acne. Dry skin will probably be caused by over cleansing the area. Over cleansing with harsh cleansers will typically dry out the top layers of the epidermis but since the problem is oil and bacteria trapped below the skin surface, the spots and pimples will still appear leading to very irritated skin, more redness and often worsening acne!
Acne treatment at the Skin Evolutions Clinic
If you have tried and failed to improve your acne then come and talk to us. Our skin specialists and doctors have extensive experience treating acne and are often successful where other treatments have failed. Most treatments centre upon cleansing with harsh cleaning products or sometimes antibiotics or even harsh harmful drugs such as Roaccutane. Our approach centres upon getting your skin working properly using our extensive knowlege, cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical dermatological products.
How we help you get rid of your acne……
Our cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical products work very differently to those you can buy over the counter in a chemists or those you might be prescribed by your doctor on the NHS. We can help you acheive clearer skin. Our range of treatments and products tackle the root causes of acne. As well as highly effective topical skin care products by Obagi and Medik8, superficial chemical peels can help eliminate acneic skin by exfoliating deep into the pores where the problem begins.
Call us today to find out about effective acne treatment on 01962 809937.