Thursday, 7 October 2010
Treating the skin - acne causes
Acne is caused by overactivity of the sebaceous glands that secrete oily substances on to your skin.
The surface of your skin has lots of small sebaceous glands just below the surface. These glands make sebum (a natural oil) that keeps the skin smooth and supple.
Tiny pores (holes in the skin) allow the sebum to come to the surface of your skin. Hairs also grow through these pores.
The sebaceous glands of people with acne are especially sensitive to normal blood levels of the hormone testosterone, found naturally in both men and women.
If you are prone to acne, testosterone triggers the sebaceous glands to produce excess sebum. At the same time, the dead skin cells lining the openings of the hair follicles (the tubes that hold the hair) aren't shed properly and clog up the follicles.
The combination of these two effects causes a build-up of oil in your hair follicles. This causes blackheads and whiteheads to form.
For some people, their acne doesn't progress beyond this stage.
However, in other people the build-up of oil in the hair follicles creates an ideal environment for a bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes to grow. This the tea tree oil clears due to its antimicrobial activity.
These bacteria usually live harmlessly on your skin but when the conditions are right, they grow. They feed off the sebum and produce substances that cause an immune response. This inflames the skin and creates the redness associated with spots.
In more severe inflammatory acne, cysts develop beneath the skin's surface. If these cysts rupture, the infection can spread. This can result in scars.
Contrary to popular belief, acne isn't caused by diet or hygiene. However, acne can be hereditary.
Posted by Ian Brealey at 14:56