Acne (‘spots’, ‘pimples’ or ‘zits’) is one of the most common skin conditions, especially among teenagers and young adults. It is distressing to those affected by it.

Research has revealed four key players that act together: excess oil (sebum), clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation. Our bodies produce sebum to prevent the skin from drying out. Sebum production increases dramatically during adolescence, and not all of the excess sebum can flow freely to the skin’s surface, so some of it clogs the skin pores.

Common bacteria that live on healthy skin flourish in the excess oil, causing inflammation. In minor cases, a ‘blackhead’ or ‘whitehead’ forms; if the blockage develops deeper within the skin, a papule (pimple) forms. A bit deeper and a pustule (pus-filled pimple) develops. Nodules and cysts, the most severe types of acne lesions, are caused by very deep inflammation.

A person’s genetics, hormones, menstruation and emotional stress levels also contribute to whether they are likely to suffer with acne.


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