What Causes Acne?

Written and Reviewed by Dr. Uzma Qureshi
Published on: 05/10/2020

Acne is a common skin condition that usually starts in puberty due to a surge in hormones

Acne causes oily skin and spots.

Spots can take on many forms – blackheads, whiteheads , papules (small red lumps under the skin), pustules (like papules but filled with pus) , nodules (painful hard lumps under the skin), and cysts (large pus filled swellings)

What causes acne?

Sebaceous glands are located next to the hair follicles in the skin. They are responsible for producing oil to help keep our skin moisturised

They are stimulated to produce excess oil by hormones, typically testosterone.

The oil then mixes with dead skin cells and blocks the pore that the hair follicle exists from.

This blocked pore then can bulge outwards – creating the ‘spot’.

Normal bacteria that exist on the skin surface, usually causing no problems, are attracted to the blocked pore and cause it to become infected – causing the painful inflamed spot.

Acne in people of Asian descent

Acne is no more common in Asians compared to other ethnicity, however due to darker skin types Asians are more likely to experience scarring and pigmentation where they have had spots.

Treatment options

Always see a medically qualified professional to assess and advise on treatment because it is easier to treat acne before scarring or pigmentation occurs.

The purpose of treatments is to address the causes behind why the acne has happened i.e – unclog the pore, reduce the hormones, reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin

Depending on stage/degree of acne you may be offered:

Medicated creams containing benzyl peroxide, retinol – unclog the pores and remove dead skin

Oral antibiotics – reduce bacteria

Chemical peels – unclog the pores

Contraceptive pills – reduce hormone levels

LED therapy – reduces bacteria

Oral retinoids – only dermatologist can prescribe this and reserved for severe acne due to the risks attached with the medication, but works really well in most cases

If you have scarring –

micro needling – tiny needles penetrate skin and stimulate new collagen to help plump out scars

surgical procedures – for more sever scarring – helps release the scars or can be filled with dermal fillers

If you have pigmentation-

Chemical peels – help to exfoliate and lighten skin

De-pigmenting creams – can help reduce the melanin in the pigmented areas and improve overall skin tone

Topical prescription strength retinol – helps to unclog pores, reduces oil production and increases skin turnover

Psychological effect of acne

Plenty of research and evidence that tells us that acne sufferers can experience problems with self-consciousness, embarrassment, self-esteem and self-image.

Interestingly the degree of psychological issues is not related to the severity of acne, i.e mild acne can have profound effects on a person’s mental wellbeing.

So seeking treatments for acne shouldn’t be seen as a cosmetic /vanity issue but should be encouraged.

Acne myths

Lots of myths around acne – all have been disproved

Acne is due to poor diet, caused by ‘dirty skin’, only teens get acne, squeezing a spot helps a spot clear up faster!

At MySkyn we can provide a medical assessment and all of the above treatments ( except oral retinoids).

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My:Skyn is an all female run clinic. We speak both Urdu and Punjabi if you require.

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