Acne is caused by inflammation of oil glands, called sebaceous glands, in the hair follicles. Skin pores are tiny holes that provide openings for these follicles. Normally, oil produced in these glands helps lubricate the skin and clear them of dead cells and other debris. During puberty, however, the production of male sex hormones (androgens) increases in both men and women. This stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, which narrows the openings (of the glands and pours) for the oil to escape. According to the website Net Doctor, when this overproduction of oil and constriction of gland openings combine with bacteria that feed on sebum and produce waste products that irritate the oil glands, acne is often the result. While acne occurs on body parts other than the face, facial acne is the most visible and the condition can cause psychological and social stress, state experts at Medline Plus.
Acne starts as small, tender spots and progresses as inflammation develops. Medline Plus cites blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, crusting of skin eruptions, redness around skin eruptions and scarring as other signs of acne. Painful cysts can also occur if the inflammation is particularly deep.
Conditions That May Worsen Acne
Acne tends to run in families, implying a genetic component. Environmental conditions, however, are also very important. Damp, greasy, oily environments or those with certain chemicals can aggravate acne, including facial acne. Squeezing or picking pimples, menstruation, pregnancy, stress, birth control pills, greasy or oily cosmetic products, excessive sweating, high levels of humidity and certain medications, such as steroids, testosterone, estrogen and phenytoin can all aggravate acne. Contrary to popular myth, chocolate and nuts do not make acne worse, according to Medline Plus.
When To Call a Physician
According to the website Net Doctor, physicians should examine acne conditions, including facial acne, if over-the-counter medications do not work after six to eight weeks, it causes psychological distress or scarring, large, tender pimples occur or if the skin darkens in patches where acne occurs.
Acne treatments, including those for facial acne, target the causes--the increased production of sebum and associated bacteria--according to Medline Plus. These treatments can be over-the-counter products, prescription topical products and/or prescription oral medications. Many of the prescription products are antibiotics or have an antibiotic component. Laser treatments may also help, including for the removal of acne scars. Treating acne, particularly facial acne, can greatly reduce social and psychological distress associated with the condition.