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Pimples & Acne: Causes & Culprits

Posted by on 8/4/2018
Far above all skin’s predispositions, acne makes the most noise for our essential outer layer because acne is the most common skin problem in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Acne precedes dryness disorders, rashes, cancers, funguses, and viruses that impact the skin.

Along with being common, acne is also a disease caused by clogged skin pores.
Look closely in the mirror and you can see your pores: They are the thousands of small holes in your skin and believe it or not, they do have a purpose aside from being common pimple factories.

Skin pores are home to a hair follicle and a gland that excretes sebum, a natural oil that helps prevent our skin from drying out. Skin pores are also the exit route for our dead skin cells, which our bodies shed regularly.

I bet you know the end of this story, right? Well, at least the middle part, the part that produces the pimple? That’s right. Acne comes about when the dead skin and the oil get clogged in that pore.

It’s like a party with too many guests and no exit. And sometimes bacteria comes in to crash the party. The result, before the skin cops are called, is a red and swollen bump. And if that bump, or pimple, goes deep? Well, you can call it a large, and often painful, nodule.

Other party crashers:

Cysts - Deep and painful pimples filled with pus that can cause scars.
Pustules - Pimples that are red at the bottom with pus on top.

Papules - Small, tender pink bumps.
Blackheads - Pimples that rise to the skin’s surface and have a black appearance.
Whiteheads - Pimples that stay under the skin’s surface.

And these guests do not discriminate where they stake a claim. You might find acne, or pimples, on your back (bacne), chest, upper arms, neck, and butt.

Along with the natural malfunctioning of the skin’s pores and oils, skincare expert and Dermatologist Dr. Michael S. Spicer reveals the most common acne causes and exacerbators:

Hormonal changes - In teens, an increase in the hormone androgen can cause acne flares. Adults can produce hormone-related acne, although not as common. Women who have acne flares along the jawline should have their hormone levels checked, Dr. Spicer said. 

Stress - “Stress will make acne worse,” Dr. Spicer said. “Stress can affect the immune system, as well as cause hormonal changes. This can lead to a flare of more pimples that are redder and more inflamed than usual.” 

-  Corticosteroids, lithium, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids, DHEA, and medications that contain bromides or iodides, can cause true acne or acne-like eruptions, according to WebMD. 

Physical pressure - Don’t touch, Dr. Spicer said because “Pressure on the skin can compact the dead skin cells around the pores into a keratin plug creating a blackhead. Sometimes this keratin plug traps oil and bacteria within the pore. The bacteria feed off the oil and inflame the follicle and a whitehead pimple is formed.” 

Hair  - “Hair products that contain petroleum-based ingredients are more likely to cause break-outs and pimples,” Dr. Spicer said. “However, even hair against the skin can cause break-outs. The hair naturally wicks the oil onto the skin causing the skin to become more oily and prone to pimple formation. Try to keep the hair away from the face as much as possible.” 

Smoking - Unfortunately I can look at someone’s skin and tell they are a smoker, Dr. Spicer said, “Smokers tend to get a more cystic acne with deeper scars. The pores of smokers also tend to be larger due plugging and the dead skin tends to be “‘stickier’” 

Food - There are no foods that are directly related to causing acne, Dr. Spicer said,  however, there  is research to suggest that proinflammatory foods can make acne worse. Dairy in particular is frequently reported culprit, “I suggest keeping one’s diet balanced and healthy, with lean meats and vegetables for meals, and fruits for dessert or snack.” 

Dirty Skin - It seems a no-brainer to say that dirty skin is more prone to acne. But skin cleanliness sometimes is the last thing on a young person’s mind. To this, Dr. Spicer says, “Environmental debris, dust, dirt and oil can trigger a plugging of the pores and lead to pimple formation. It’s always a good practice to wash your face after working out, playing sports or doing outdoors activities.” 

For more skin education and skincare tips, follow the Épicé Blog at www.epiceinternational.com 

*Dr. Michael S. Spicer is the innovative dermatologist behind Épicé Skincare, an elite and affordable line of skincare products formulated through his desire to create the most effective, natural and healthy skincare for his patients. As a Dermatologist and Dermatopathologist for more than 20 years in both the Eastern and Western United States and abroad, Dr. Spicer is a true authority. He has a Dermatologic practice on Florida's East Coast, Brevard Medical Dermatology and he has conducted extensive research in the arena of Dermatology and Skincare.

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