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Acne Overview: Causes, Treatment and Support

Updated on January 30, 2012


Acne is a very common problem especially during adolescent years. Everyone at some point in their lives will experience acne. It may be just a few pimples every now and then. Or it may be quite severe, covering large parts of ones body lasting for years.

One of the most important steps in dealing with acne, especially in the adolescent years. Is to find support from family and friends if needed. Some people are not affected by their appearence while dealing with acne. While others may feel traumatized. This unfortunate condition can cause low self esteem and may even lead to bullying. We must learn to support our peers when they need us and never, ever pick on someone who is dealing with acne. Fact: having ance does not make someone dirty, unclean, or unkept.

Acne Vulgaris (aka pimples) is a fairly common human skin condition. This condition is due to the overproduction of oil in the skin by the skins oil glands (sebaceous glands). The production of this oil is normal and is used to lubricate the skin. However, in the case of acne the overproduction of oil is trapped in the pores of the skin . These blocked pores will then become infected with bacteria resulting in an inflammatory response by the body, which then results in acne.

This over secretion of oil produces the common pustules (pimples), comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules (pinheads) and areas with seborrhea (scaly read skin). In severe cases acne may cause what are called cysts. Acne cysts are deep pimples that occur under the skin.

Acne is most commonly found in the areas with most sebaceous follicles (oil glands), such as the face, upper chest and the back. However, can be found almost anywhere on the body.



What Causes Acne

There are many factors that may be causing your acne. But remember acne is not caused by being "unclean".


During puberty the body produces more of the male sex hormone called Androgen's. This sex hormone causes the follicular glands to not only grow larger but also causes them to make more sebum (oil) as well.

This sex hormone also increases at certain points during the menstrual cycle. Which also may result in the women experiencing acne at certain points in their menstrual cycle.

Acne during pregnancy is also unfortunately quite common. This is also due to hormonal changes. During pregnancy your progesterone levels rise. Progesterone also causes follicular glands to produce more sebum (oil). This overproduction of oil mixed with the fluid retention during pregnancy can result in acne.


A diet high in sugar does not exactly cause acne. However, it will cause existing acne to worsen.


Repeated pressure on a certain area of the body. Such as a helmet strap or bra strap. May aggravate acne and cause it to worsen.

Pore Blockage

Normally oil is able to flow out of the pores on the skin and is used as lubrication. In the case of acne these pores become blocked by dead skin cells. Resulting in an inflammation of the pores. This blockage is not due to poor hygiene.


Cosmetics such as cover up may clog the pores preventing the oil from escaping. This too will cause an inflammation of the pores resulting in acne. Water-based cosmetics are less likely to cause this.

Corticosteroid Medications

An adverse reaction to corticosteroid medications such as , hydrocortisone. May cause an acne like response. Resulting in papules.


Stress may also aggravate acne.

There are many other conditions which may produce symptoms similar to acne such as Rosacea, STI's, Keratosis Pilaris, Folliculitis, and Miliaria Rubra.Therefore, it is important to check with your doctor whether what you are experiencing is acne or another condition that needs to be treated.

Acne Treatment

There are many, many products on the market right now claiming to cure acne. Some are money grabs and may not work for anyone. Other treatments may work for some people and not for others. It is best to discuss your options with your family doctor or a dermatologist to determine which option is best for you. This may also include some trial and error in order to determine which treatment works for your acne.

Common Acne Treatments

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is commonly used to treat acne. Vitamin A is used to generate new cells and restore dead ones. However, this is not your regular Vitamin A you will get in a multi-vitamin. This treatment uses subgroups of Vitamin A such as;


  • Retin-A
  • Differin
  • Isotrexin
  • Tazorac
  • Accutane (isotretinoin)
  • Roaccutane

These Vitamin A treatments are very high doses of Vitamin A. And should only be used under your doctors discretion. As they may have some very harmful side effects. Most being of pregnancy category X. Meaning that they will cause harm to the developing fetus. And monthly pregnancy tests will be required if you are female.

Some doses of Vitamin A , from the vitamin section in your local Pharmacy, may also have some effects against acne. Without the harmful side effects as these are in much smaller doses.

Birth Control Pills

That's right. Birth control pills are not only used to prevent pregnancy. They are also used to treat acne. Most birth control pills use ethinyl etradiol as a form of Estrogen will decrease the production of androgens and therefore decrease the production of oil in the oil glands.

Acne Do's and Don't

The Don'ts of Acne

  • Don't pop the pimples especially without clean hands. By doing so you may be introducing harmful microorganisms through a break in your skin.
  • Don't pick on someone with acne. Having acne can be hard to deal with without being made fun of for it.
  • Don't wear large amounts of make-up. Make-up will clog your pores.
  • Don't wash your face too much. Doing so will only aggravate your acne.
  • Don't scrub your face. This will  aggravate the acne.
  • Don't expose your skin to sunlight. Sunlight may tighten the skin causing acne to worsen.

The Do's of Acne

  • Do wash your face with mild soaps.
  • Do keep your hair off your face. Hair may add oil your your skin and aggravate it.
  • Do use water based moisturizers.
  • Do change bedding and towels often.
  • Do take care of yourself, plenty of water, proper diet and adequate exercise.
  • Do seek medical advice.

Do not squeeze acne.
Do not squeeze acne. | Source


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    • blairtracy profile image

      blairtracy 6 years ago from Canada

      I agree. The more that is known about it. And the more support we offer those with acne the better!

    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 6 years ago

      Acne is a very common problem. I am glad you made a hub on this important issue.