Acne or acne vulgaris is a skin condition generally characterized by the clogging of hair follicles with dead skin cells and sebum or oil. Specific characteristics include the appearance of whiteheads or blackheads, inflammation due to pimples, and in some cases, scarring.
Treating or preventing acne requires understanding its causes. Note that the interplay of different factors generally causes this skin condition. Hence, it is important to understand the different factors at play that lead to the development of acne.
An Overview of the Factors of Acne
1. Follicular Occlusion
One of the primary factors leading to the development of acne is follicular occlusion or the blockage of the hair follicles by dead skin cells and the natural oil produced by the skin. There are more specific causes of this blockage. Furthermore, some certain skin products can lead to follicular occlusion.
2. Microbe Overgrowth
There is a wide assumption that the anaerobic bacterial species Cutibacterium acnes contributes to the development of acne by triggering inflammation, increasing sebum production, and increasing skin turnover rate. Note that this bacterial species lives primarily on the fatty acids in sebum.
3. Genetic Factor
Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to acne. Studies have suggested that the skin condition is likely due to the influence of multiple genes. Some of the identified genes that play a role in the development of acne include TNF-alpha, Interleukin 1 alpha, and Cytochrome P1A1 genes, among others.
Hormonal activity during puberty or menstrual cycles may also contribute to the development of acne. For example, an increase in the production of sex hormones called androgens during puberty causes the skin follicle glands to grow larger and produce more sebum. Insulin-like growth factor has also been associated with a severe case of acne.
There are also studies exploring the relationship between diet and acne. However, these so-called dietary factors of acne remain poorly understood. Some studies noted that a diet low in glycemic index could be effective in reducing acne. Other studies tried exploring how dairy milk consumption can lead to the development of acne.