Saturday, January 26, 2008

What Causes Acne?

Human skin contains a number of structures called "pilosebaceous units" which consist of a sebaceous gland, a hair follicle and a hair. These are found on every area of the body excluding the top of the feet, lower lip, palms and soles of the feet. The sebaceous glands in these pilosebaceous units secrete a substance known as sebum, which is an oily type material. Both the size and the rate of sebum production of the sebaceous glands increases dramatically during adolescence with the reverse occurring during the early twenties.

Living on the skin is the bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes. It is a normal inhabitant of the skin and uses sebum as a food source to assist its growth. Therefore, if the quantity of sebum produced by the sebaceous glands increases, so does the number of P. acnes living on the skin. If the concentration of P. acnes in the hair follicles is too great then white blood cells will be attracted to the area to fight the infection. An ezyme produced by the white blood cells then causes damage to the hair follicle wall, which proceeds to rupture, spilling its contents into the dermis (skin) To fight the infection an inflammatory response occurs, forming structures such as pustules, papules and nodules. Periodically, for reasons that are still unknown, hair follicles become obstructed. The sebum produced by the follicle then becomes trapped inside and dead cells become stuck in the sebum creating a "plug". During this process, structures called comedomes are formed (these are also known as blackheads) These are hardened mixtures of sebum and dead cells.

Even though other factors such as diet, stress levels and environmental conditions can appear to "cause" acne, in reality they are only worsening the process described above. All acne treatments simply aim to prevent one or more steps of the malfunction of the skin's pilosebaceous units, whether that be controlling the number of P. acnes on the skin, drying out excess oils or soothing inflammation. The secret to treating acne is finding a routine that can help restore normal skin function without causing damage to the skin or body in the process.

Sam G Jackson has been writing articles on natural acne treatments for a number of years and is a firm believer in their effectiveness. If you would like more free advice on homemade, natural acne treatment please visit his website at

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