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Do you struggle with acne and wish you understood it better?

Do you struggle with acne and wish you understood it better? What causes it? Is all acne the same?

Acne typically appears on the face but more than half of the population suffers from acne on the back while approximately 15% of people suffer from acne on their chest as well. There are multiple types of acne that range from small outbreaks such as blackheads and whiteheads to more severe and painful outbreaks known as papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

Acne results when the sebaceous glands, where hair follicles are attached, become clogged with dirt and bacteria which commonly resides on the skin and excess sebum (oily excretion of the sebaceous gland) form a blockage of the small gland. Bacteria, typically harmless, survives on the skin and when exposed to a clogged gland create an infected area that if left unattended will result in larger more painful infections. These types of acne require medical assistance to heal the infection and treat the exposed skin to help prevent scarring.

Throughout our lives we are more prone to acne breakouts during time of increased hormone levels such as puberty, pregnancy or conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome. Stress may be another source of acne. There is no solid research to support this claim however, studies have determined a trend in the increase of acne when someone with active outbreaks experiences an increase in stress hormones produced by the body.

Additional causes of acne flare-ups may include certain medications such as steroids as well as anti-epileptic medications. Steady use of items such as headbands, ball caps or backpacks can cause outbreaks in areas that come into regular contact with the skin.

There are many myths about acne that persist. Myths that are widely perpetuated about the cause of acne are centered around poor diet, poor hygiene. Myths related to improving acne outbreaks are that if you squeeze the blackheads or whiteheads they will disappear however the truth is that this could actually cause the problem to persist or even get worse leaving scars. Sunbathing, sunbeds and sunlamps are also believed to help improve acne outbreaks however there is no evidence that this is the case. It is more likely that exposure to the sun or UV rays will cause damage to your skin with no impact on your acne. Medications dispensed to treat acne are likely to make your skin light sensitive and cause damage to your skin that could be painful as well as put you at risk for skin cancer.