The causes of active acne are multiple and complex and can differ from person to person. There are, however, some underlying causes that have been identified:
1. Androgens. Generally referred to as ‘male hormones’, they are produced by both the male and female body. Production starts at puberty, and causes the sebaceous hair follicles to become enlarged.
2. Increased sebum production. As the follicles become enlarged, the androgens stimulate sebum production. Normally the sebum travels up the follicle to the skin’s surface, where it keeps the skin hydrated and supple. When production is excessive, the sebum is more likely to form a plug as it mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria – before it reached the surface.
3. Increased cell shedding. Along with increased sebum, the cells lining the follicle tend to shed more frequently than usual. This, too, increases the chances of a plug forming, simply because there is an excess of cells and sebum clogging the follicle.
4. Bacteria. While we do need a certain amount of bacteria living on our skin in order for it to remain healthy, the problem occurs when our follicles become blocked. The dead skin cells and sebum cause the bacteria to proliferate, and when they get out of control they can result in inflammation, infection and painful red spots.