Published on January 27, 2024

Unlocking the Causes of Acne: Understanding the Dynamic Duo of Hormones and Bacteria

What causes acne?

Imagine your body as a big factory with lots of workers. These workers are like hormones, which are chemicals that tell different parts of your body what to do.

Now, one of the jobs of these hormones is to help keep your skin healthy and clean. But sometimes, especially when you're a teenager, these hormones get a little too excited and start producing too much oil. This oil is called sebum, and it's made in tiny glands in your skin called sebaceous glands.

When there's too much oil being produced, it can clog up your pores. Pores are like tiny holes on your skin where the oil comes out. When they get clogged, bacteria that live on your skin start to multiply because they have a nice, cozy home in the oil.
Now, your body doesn't like these bacteria hanging around, so it sends out an army of white blood cells to fight them. This battle between the bacteria and the white blood cells is what causes those red, swollen bumps we call pimples.
So, in simple terms, hormones tell your skin to make too much oil, which clogs your pores, allows bacteria to grow, and then your body fights the bacteria, leading to acne.
As you grow older, your hormones usually settle down, and acne tends to become less of a problem. But sometimes, especially if your hormones are still going a bit crazy or if you're stressed, acne can stick around longer. And if it gets really bad, there are treatments available that can help calm those hormones down.

Which acne medications are most effective?

Retinoids, such as tretinoin and adapalene, are topical medications that are available by prescription. They are derived from vitamin A and work by increasing cell turnover and unclogging pores.
Antibiotics, such as clindamycin and doxycycline, can be used to reduce the population of P. acnes, a type of bacteria that can cause acne. They can be taken orally or applied topically.
For women who have acne that is related to hormonal fluctuations, birth control pills or spironolactone may be prescribed.

Which topical acne treatments are effective?

Taking good care of your skin by washing it gently and avoiding too much oily stuff on your face can help keep acne under control.
Over-the-counter topical treatments, such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, can be effective in treating mild to moderate acne. These medications work by unclogging pores and reducing inflammation.

Which supplements improve acne?

Zinc: This mineral has been shown to reduce the severity of acne by reducing inflammation and regulating the production of oil in the skin.

Omega-3 fatty acids: These healthy fats can help reduce inflammation in the body, which may help improve the appearance of acne-prone skin.

: These beneficial bacteria can help improve the balance of bacteria in the gut, which may have a positive effect on the skin.

Vitamin A
: This vitamin is important for maintaining healthy skin, and it has been shown to reduce the formation of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) associated with acne.

Vitamin D: People with vitamin D deficiencies are more susceptible to acne. Vitamin D can help with the symptoms of acne for those who have a vitamin D deficiency.

DIM: Derived from cruciferous vegetables may help reduce acne by blocking excess testosterone.

It's important to note that these supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. They should be used in conjunction with other healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and exercise, and avoiding triggers such as stress and certain skincare products. Consult with a medical professional before taking any supplement or medication.

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