Acne 101

First, no single factor causes acne.

Second, for reasons doctors do not completely understand, follicles, often called pores, sometimes get blocked. Sebum (oil), which normally drains to the surface, gets trapped in the pore and stimulates bacteria. Bacteria live on everyone’s skin and generally pose no problems, but oil can cause it to multiply, inflaming surrounding skin tissue as a result.

3 things to know:

  1. A papule occurs when there is a break in the follicle’s wall. White blood cells rush in to help destroy the bacteria and the pore becomes inflamed.
  2. A pustule forms several days later when white blood cells make their way to the surface of the skin. This is what people usually refer to as a “pimple” or “whitehead”.
  3. Blackheads are not dirt, and do not reflect poor hygiene. They are the result of the oil accumulating melanin or becoming oxidized, during which the oil changes from white to black.

A few extras:

  • Eating certain foods does not cause acne
  • Sweat does not cause acne
  • Stress does not play much of a direct role in causing acne
  • Cosmetics should not be pore-clogging or “comedogenic”