What causes Acne?
The big question is, what causes acne? What causes acne in one individual may greatly differ from another, however they do share the same underlying processes.
Acne (or Acne vulgaris) is a hormonally driven skin condition, in which pores get clogged and oil (sebum) secretion is abnormally increased. These factors create an ideal micro- environment for bacterial infection to thrive and resulting inflammation to set in.
Acne is considered a chronic inflammatory condition and is often worse in times of stress, hormonal factors, occlusion and the use of certain cosmetic products and medications.
Severe acne is obvious when you have multiple painful red spots and yellow spots (pustules), and you may develop acne cysts around the jawline and neck. Another form of severe acne is Bacne (also known as Back acne), which is more common in males and has a higher risk of scarring if left untreated.
Impact of acne on your health?
Acne is a common chronic skin condition that affects up to 80% of individuals at some point in their lives, with the majority of sufferers being in their adolescent to young adults years. Up to 20% of Acne sufferers have Severe Acne leading to permanent skin scarring and mental health problems.
In fact, there is a study that has shown that even those with mild acne have reported symptoms of depression and even suicidal thoughts. 2 The symptoms of depression and suicide thoughts is more than doubled for those with severe acne.
The fear of not being good enough, not looking good enough and how other people perceive the individual leads to detachment from society, detachment from friends and detachment from self.
Fortunately, Acne is a treatable condition but understanding acne is the first step.
Why Mental Health Problems exist in 21st century adolescents?
Up to 20% of children and teenagers experience mental health problems, an Australian study has found.1
The literature review, which was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry in 2014, examined 19 epidemiological studies across 12 countries such USA, Europe and China have found that teenage girls are increasingly suffering from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
It appears that a combination of factors in the 21st century may contribute to the increase in mental health problems. Cultural factors impose tremendous psychological pressures on teenagers as they may battle internally with own sense of significance, identity and physical appearance. Education factors, which are closely linked to economic factors, can affect young adults, as the perceived link of good grades to success and net worth to self worth, becomes ingrained in the minds of 21st century young adults.
Myths about what causes acne
There have been many myths circulating about what causes acne, as understandably we try to seek an explanation for this common skin condition. Some myths about what causes acne are false and include:
- Poor hygiene causes acne
- Acne only occurs in teenagers
- Squeezing your acne makes it better faster
- Fast food causes acne
- Acne can be cleared by sun tanning
Three Proven Acne Treatments
- Acne products are commonly found off the shelves, and many contain benzoyl peroxide (BPO). BPO is an excellent topical treatment for mild forms of acne as it is anti-bacterial and helps gets rid of white/back heads. BPO however, can cause skin sensitivity and dryness, so you should start gently and gradually to the affected areas. The other acne products are prescribed by a doctor and may contain an antibiotic and/or retinoid (a Vitamin A) for moderate forms of acne.
- Oral Antibiotics are useful for inflammatory acne to reduce the bacteria and inflammation. While oral antibiotics are a good option for moderate inflammatory acne, they should be combined with topical acne products such as BPO to reduce bacterial resistance. Oral antibiotics are associated with some side effects such as nausea, gastric discomfort, diarrhoea, and vaginal yeast infection. Some oral antibiotics may not be suitable if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Oral Retinoids is a form of Vitamin A, and is one of the most effective ways of treating acne, especially severe acne. It is effective because it treats the 4 abnormal processes of acne such as clogged pores, sebum production, infection and inflammation. Most patients see a dramatic improvement in their acne, with up to 70-80% cured of acne with a course of this medication. With successful treatment, there is a reduction in the levels of anxiety and depression experienced as well.3 Of course, this medication is not without its side effects. The most common is dryness of the skin, lips, nose and eyes. It may cause joint aches and temporary flare of your acne. Most importantly, oral retinoids should never be taken if you may be pregnant as it has a high risk of causing fetal abnormalities.
What Acne treatments are Best for me?
At APAX Medical & Aesthetics Clinic, we treat all forms of Acne, including Inflammatory Acne, Cystic Acne, Back Acne, Comedomal Acne (Blackheads and whiteheads), Acne red marks, Acne Pigmentation and Acne scars.
The most effective acne treatment is customized to the individual, depending on what type of acne you have. The consultation aims to determine what causes your acne. The clinic uses a variety of effective medical grade creams, oral medications, chemical peels, surgical techniques and Laser devices to treat acne and acne scarring.
We provide a simple and cost effective skin care program to promote healthy skin, and give practical advice on how to minimize acne breakouts and acne scarring.
Acne is a very common skin condition and the effect on mental well-being cannot be ignored. We believe that early and effective acne treatment intervention is vital to reduce scarring and the psychological impact that many individuals with acne face.
Acne Facial Treatments
- Bor. et al. Are child and adolescent mental health problems increasing in the 21st century? A systemic review. Australian & NZ Journal of Psychiatry 2014, 48(7) 606-616.
- Jon A. Halvorsen et al. Suicidal Ideation, Mental Health problems and social impairment are increased in adolescents with acne: A population-based study. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2011, 131 (2) 383-379.
- David R. Rubinow et al. Reduced anxiety and depression in cystic acne patients after successful treatment with oral Isotretinoin. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 1987, 17 (1) 25-32.