I’m sure many of you have prepared for a major event in your life such as prom night, wedding, graduation or some other special occasion when you were hoping to look your best. But when you wake up that day, you find the largest blackhead, whitehead, or pimple in the world on the most prominent part of your face. Horror of horrors! You think to yourself, “I shouldn’t have had those chips, or fast food, or junk food the other night because they probably caused this.” Can any of you relate to this story? Well, if you thought that it was the bad food that caused that unwanted guest on your face you are wrong. Neither junk food (including sweets), bad diet, nor dirt actually causes acne.
There is no statistical proof that junk food like pizza, chocolate, fried foods, or food containing caffeine or fats are the cause of acne. Acne is a consequence of overly excited sebaceous glands.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is caused by four key triggers: excess oil, clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation. The excess oil, also known as sebum, is oil produced by the skin to avert it from drying out. When this excess oil is unable to surge to the skin’s surface the result is clogged pores, which leads to acne. Inflammation is caused by Propionibacterium, an acne bacteria, which is found on everyone’s skin. When there is a little inflammation the excess sebum is blocked near the skin’s surface, resulting in either a blackhead or whitehead. However, when the excess sebum is blocked deeper in the skin then a pimple will be the result of the inflammation.
So what can cause excess production of sebum?
- Hormones – they are released by the body during puberty and throughout life and can stimulate sebaceous glands if there is a hormonal imbalance
- Heat – body heat and increased circulation, e.g. through vigorous exercise activities, may excite glands to release more oil
- Friction – snug clothing, chin straps, head bands, or bra straps, can irritate the skin and stimulate glands to release oil
- Irritation – excessive scrubbing or use of harsh cleansers can irritate the skin stimulating glands to react
- Steroids– the inappropriate use of anabolic steroids, more specifically anabolic androgen steroid (AAS) can lead to acne due to the stimulation of sebaceous glands
How can you prevent acne from recurring in the future?
While a poor diet will not exacerbate acne, rubbing greasy fingers against your skin while eating, or running them through your hair may add to the debris on the skin and cause pores to clog. When cleansing your face, use a mild cleanser and a microfiber cloth that successfully absorbs oil. In addition, in order to kill the propionibacterium, acne’s bacteria that cause acne, you must first remove the top layer of skin that protects it through exfoliation. Post-exfoliation, apply toner to clean pores, and a restoring 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide cream to kill the bacteria.