Questions and Answers about Acne – (Part 2)

Types of Lesions

  • Other troublesome acne lesions can develop, including the following:
  • Papules--inflamed lesions that usually appear as small, pink bumps on the skin and can be tender to the touch
  • Pustules (pimples)--papules topped by pus-filled lesions that may be red at the base
  • Nodules--large, painful, solid lesions that are lodged deep within the skin
  • Cysts--deep, painful, pus-filled lesions that can cause scarring.

What Causes Acne?

The exact cause of acne is unknown, but doctors believe it results from several related factors. One important factor is an increase in hormones called androgens (male sex hormones). These increase in both boys and girls during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or starting or stopping birth control pills can also cause acne.

Another factor is heredity or genetics. Researchers believe that the tendency to develop acne can be inherited from parents. For example, studies have shown that many school-age boys with acne have a family history of the disorder. Certain drugs, including androgens and lithium, are known to cause acne. Greasy cosmetics may alter the cells of the follicles and make them stick together, producing a plug.

Factors That Can Make Acne Worse

  • Factors that can cause an acne flare include:
  • Changing hormone levels in adolescent girls and adult women 2 to 7 days before their menstrual period starts
  • Friction caused by leaning on or rubbing the skin
  • Pressure from bike helmets, backpacks, or tight collars
  • Environmental irritants, such as pollution and high humidity
  • Squeezing or picking at blemishes
  • Hard scrubbing of the skin.

Myths About the Causes of Acne

There are many myths about what causes acne. Chocolate and greasy foods are often blamed, but foods seem to have little effect on the development and course of acne in most people. Another common myth is that dirty skin causes acne; however, blackheads and other acne lesions are not caused by dirt. Finally, stress does not cause acne.

Who Gets Acne?

People of all races and ages get acne. It is most common in adolescents and young adults. Nearly 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 develop the disorder. For most people, acne tends to go away by the time they reach their thirties; however, some people in their forties and fifties continue to have this skin problem.

Read Part 3 - How is Acne Treated

The Author:

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease - http://www.niams.nih.gov/

Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici - Freedigitalphotos.net

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