The cause of acne is pretty simple: dead skin cells, sebum, and bacteria goop together and clog your pores, causing an infection in the skin. Straight forward, right?
But why? Why your skin, why you? We have answers! Keep reading to learn where your breakouts are starting and what changes you can make to prevent them.
The Sciencey Stuff
Acne thrives on inflammation. Your body resorts to inflammation to combat anything foreign or threatening. Scientists are still trying to figure out what triggers acne, but one educated guess is that it starts with stress.
Then you have to account for follicular hyperkeratinization, which is a fancy term for excessive skin cell growth. Folks prone to acne produce skin cells too fast for your body to keep up. They get sticky and stuck in your pores and, along with the inflammation, effectively narrow the pore opening.
The dead skin combines with sebum, which is probably also being produced in excess and creates the perfect environment for bacteria growth.
Most people already have bacteria, P. acnes, living on their skin, and don’t have a problem. But the combination of an oxygen-free clogged pore that’s damp and sticky with sebum and skin cells is the perfect place for the bacteria to thrive.
So you have a gunk-filled pore, then you add more inflammation as your body is trying to fix the clog and BOOM, the whole thing ruptures and leaves you with a big pus-filled zit.
Baby, You’re Born With It
We all have skin cells, sebum, and bacteria, so why don’t we all have acne?
One possibility is genetics. If your parents had acne, you probably will too. If you’re genetically prone to have extra oily skin and an overproduction of skin cells, you’re likely prone to acne. Thanks, mom and dad.
The Way You Spend Your Day
Believe it or not, your lifestyle habits also affect whether or not you’ll get breakouts. Hormones like androgen, insulin, estrogen, and cortisol control sebum production. When your hormone levels are out of whack, you’re more likely to have too much sebum.
Lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and stress affect your hormone levels, causing them to produce extra sebum. So when you eat a lot of sugar or dairy, you could be telling your hormones to send oil production into overdrive and leave you with clogged pores.
If you counteract your skin cell production with gentle exfoliation and balance your hormones with healthy habits and you still can’t kick your breakouts, unrelated medical concerns might be to blame.
Some medications, like birth control, alter your hormone levels, and you need balanced hormones to maintain healthy, acne-free skin.
Hormone disorders like PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) also tell sebum production to pick up the pace. As we know, extra sebum is one of the critical ingredients in an acne cocktail. Looking for ways to heal your PCOS-caused acne, we explain it all here.
Change Your Complexion
It’s one thing to know why you’re getting acne; it’s another thing entirely to change your lifestyle to get rid of it. We get it. Committing to a healthy diet, rigorous skincare routine, or prescription overhaul is daunting.
Your diet and exercise don’t have to be perfect, just find a balance of healthy habits. While you’re working on that, introduce a skincare regimen to help heal, nourish, and protect your skin. Here’s a step by step to treating your acne.
The best part is, you don’t have to do this alone. We have a Facebook group
that serves as a community of support and encouragement as you navigate your skincare journey.