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Acne vulgaris is a skin disease that causes spots or pimples to develop on the skin. The types of spots can include blackheads, whiteheads, pus-filled pustules and cysts. The sufferer will usually find these spots will develop primarily on the face, neck, chest and back. Acne is a common skin complaint and will affect most of us at some point in our lives, usually during puberty.
Acne occurs when your skin begins to produce too much sebum. Sebum is an oily substance produced naturally in the skin that stops it from drying out. When too much sebum is produced, the excess mixes with dead skin cells and forms a plug. This plug blocks the tiny hair follicles found on the skin. These plugged follicles can produce blackheads or whiteheads, dependent on whether the follicle is open or closed. Open follicles will create blackheads and closed follicles will produce whiteheads. If these plugged follicles mix with naturally present bacteria, the contaminated follicle can become infected. This will cause papules, pustules, nodules or cysts to form.
Acne is usually triggered by changes in the body’s hormone levels. This is why acne is very prevalent amongst pubescent teenagers (around 80%) as the hormonal levels are in a constant state of flux. These hormonal fluctuations can result in the over-production of sebum, which is the main cause of acne. Other factors that can alter hormone levels and lead to acne include; menstruation, pregnancy and periods of stress. It is also thought that acne runs in families, therefore of one or both of your parents suffered from acne then you are more likely to also experience it.
Acne is not caused by having a poor diet, being dirty or having poor hygiene, or sexual activity.