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What is Acne and Why Do I Have It?|
What is Acne

What is Acne?



Acne also known as acne vulgaris. It is along term condition which occurs when hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin. The blockages in the hair follicles are thought to occur as a result of: high amount of sebum production, excessive deposition of keratin, the follicle filled with Propionibacterium acnes (p.acnes) bacteria. Parts of the skin with relatively high concentration of oil glands are the most affected. Acne comes in many forms namely:

  • Whiteheads; closed plugged pores
  • Blackheads; open plugged pores
  • Pimples which have pus on their tips
  • Papules are small red tender bumps
  • Cysts are painful pus filed lumps beneath the surface of the skin
  • Nodules are large solid painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin.

what is acne? a skin condition characterized by red pimples on the skin, especially on the face, due to inflamed or infected sebaceous glands and prevalent chiefly among adolescents.

Acne is most adamant in teens and children going through puberty, and generally caused by hormonal changes in the body and mostly starts during puberty stages. It is directly attributed to the rise of androgen levels as they rise, the oil glands underneath the skin enlarge and produce increased levels of sebum. When the pores are filled with sebum, it causes surrounding cells to rupture hence a breeding ground for acne.

Causes of acne.


This is actually thought to be the primary cause of acne in 80% of the cases. Genetics actually make it possible to see people who have acne prone skin and those without. Even those whose acne is pretty much severe and those who have mild acne.

what is acne? It had been thought that acne is caused by skin inflammation. However, many of the genetic variants discovered influence hair follicle formation, identifying this as a significant yet previously unknown risk factor for developing the condition. Acne is a common skin condition affecting 80% of people aged 11-30. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that's hot or painful to touch. In severe cases, it can cause significant discomfort and distress, and can lead to permanent scarring. Although it’s more common in teenagers, it can appear and persist much later in life.



In both genders, male and female, androgens appear to be part of the underlying mechanism that shows increased production of sebum.

Testosterone hormones can trigger acne by over-stimulating oil glands. They can also change the skin cells that line hair follicles, making them sticky and more likely to clog pores.

what-is-acne-testosterone Here’s how it works: Tiny glands are inside the pores of your skin, and they produce an oil called “sebum.” Sebum carries dead skin cells from follicles to your skin’s surface, but when there is too much of it, follicles become clogged and pimples can emerge. Testosterone increases the production of sebum, making it a prime acne culprit.



The excessive growth of the bacterium, Propionibacterium acnes (p.acnes), which is normally present in the skin.

Topical and oral antibiotics are routinely used to treat acne. However, antibiotic resistance is increasing, with many countries reporting that over 50% of Propioni bacterium acnes strains are resistant to topical macro lides, making them less effective.

Acne Contributing factors


It’s increasingly well-known that a diet high in sugar, processed foods, factory farmed animal products, and chemicals fuels cancer, heart disease, and might even  cause Acne.  The relationship between diet and acne is in conclusive . The impact of diet on the course of acne vulgaris is still a very controversial subject, but can no longer be overlooked. According to the results of a 2016 study the following foods are most likely to increase acne.

  • Fatty foods (fast foods)
  • dairy foods
  • chocolate
The first studies on this issue have been conducted in the 40s of the last century, however until today there has been no conclusive evidence that milk and dairy products have comedogenic effects. The probable cause of possible comedogenic effects of milk and its products is the content of hormones produced by cows during pregnancy. It is believed that the constituent of milk that mostly stimulates the pilosebaceous unit is insulin-like growth factor 1

Dairy foods cause acne?

The authors also found that acne was positively associated with a reported quantity of milk ingested, particularly skim milk.


Some prescribed medication can react to the skin of someone with pre-existing acne causing them to worsen.

rosehip for acne. Of course, anyone who deals with acne knows that oil is the last thing you’d theoretically want touching your face, but trust me when I say not all oils are created equal. Some oils can be extra drying (like castor oil), some can be incredibly soothing (like aloe vera oil), and others, like rosehip oil, can be miracle workers for acne, using fatty acids and antioxidants to soothe irritation, fade acne scars, balance out oil production, and keep skin happy overall.

Miracle rosehip oil


While stress does not directly cause acne, it can exacerbate it, and if you are already acne-prone, stress can make your acne worse. Hormonal imbalance increase sebum production that cause pimples and inflammation.


Environmental factors. 

The sun, wind, mechanical obstruction, touching of the face can worsen pre-existing acne.

Classification of acne.

Acne can be classified in order to determine the perfect treatments.

Mild acne.

This is actually shown by the presence of clogged pores that is usually limited to the face with occasional inflamed lesion.

Moderate acne.

This is determined by a higher number of papules and/or pustules which occurs on the skin compared to the mild acne.

Severe acne. This is actually determined when acne appears on the skin.

Signs and symptoms of acne.

  • Increased secretion of sebum by the skin.
  • Scarring.
  • Pigmentation.
  • Pustules.
  • Nodules.

How acne is formed.

Dead skin cells in the skin go up the hair follicle and exit the skin in normal skin type. For acne prone skin, it is a bit different. Increased sebum production of sebum causes the dead skin cells to stick together. This causes the dead skin cells and sebum to accumulate and block the pores of the hair follicle forming a lesion. If the lesion is superficial and within the hair follicle, and melanin, which is the dark pigment in our skin, is exposed to the air, resulting to oxidation and darkening, it ends up forming a blackhead.If the lesion is deep within the hair follicle, a whitehead is formed. Too much dirt in the pores creates a breeding place for the acne causing bacteria p.acnes, which provokes the skin inflammation leading to an inflamed acne lesion.

A skincare routine for acne prone skin.


Thorough cleansing keeps the skin free of excess oil, dirt, make up and sweat leaving a clean base for acne treatments. Cleansing your face goes beyond just using a soap and water. For acne prone skin, this means that you have to look for a gentle clarifying cleanser. Nothing too harsh for that skin. Cleansing your face twice daily is recommended, when you wake up in the morning and before you retire for bed.


As you cleanse your skin, you need to make sure your pores are also clean. Exfoliating keeps the pores free from dirt and excess oil. This process jus removes dead skin cells, oil build up therefore reducing the formation of acne. This also helps to smoothen the skin. Do not use harsh exfoliating scrubs because they will irritate the skin and worsen the pre-existing acne.


Toners are mostly used after the cleansing process to balance the Ph of the skin and soothe the skin from any kind of slight irritation. The toners mostly have astringent properties which will also remove extra oil and germs from the skin. Finding the right toner is key. One that s not too harsh for acne prone skin.


Most people with oily skin and even acne prone skin steer clear of moisturizing. They believe their skin produces enough oils. Moisturizing is key for both skin types. Did you know that it is good to fight oil with oil? You can find a good oil for oily skin and acne prone skin to moisturize your skin. These oils especially essential oils have abundant properties to fight acne and most of them do not clog the pores. Some oils too have cleansing properties.


Exposure to the sun is one of the many environmental factors that can worsen pre-existing acne. Sunscreen can help protect the skin from skin issues and conditions like sunburns, premature wrinkles, sunspots and even skin cancer. There are many sunscreens in the market which fit people with acne prone skin. The sunscreens which are not heavy and greasy so that they will not clog the pores. Sunscreen is recommended for everyday use.

Recommended treatments for acne prone skin.

Essential oils offer a potent way to manage hormonal acne in a way that works amazingly well with little or no side effects. Essential oils (lavender Frankincense) are not only for your skin but also stress hormones that can effectively trigger a breakout or the worsening of the condition in certain individuals.

Acne is a multi factorial (diet, stress, hormones)  condition that requires an integrated therapeutic approach in order to control and finally clear it. Essential oils can really help  by killing acne causing bacteria, and healing the skin.

The benefits of essential oils come from their antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, which provide natural medicine without side effects.


The resulting appearance caused by acne can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and in some cases suicide. Acne is not a disease it is just a treatable skin condition. With the right treatments and life style practices, one may be able to see great changes.

By Eila Oketch.