There are many theories regarding the causes and triggers of acne. Whether acne comes from within or outside the acne sufferer, understanding the foundations of acne will help achieve better results.
Acne is a chronic disease of inflammation of the pores that is caused by excessive oil production, the tendency to retain skin cells, bacteria, inflammation, hormones and genetics. These causes stem from within the acne sufferer.
Lower levels of free fatty acids like linoleic acid, and higher amounts of squalane and wax esters, contribute to acne, which explains why acne sufferers have a higher amount of oil production, which is thicker and stickier than those with normal skin. Oil builds up in the pore and stimulates and aggravates the follicle walls, which then contributes toward the tendency to retain dead skin cells.
Acne-prone skin produces up to five times more skin cells, that are stickier than normal skin cells. They fail to slough normally because they have fewer lamellar granules in their skin, which normally release enzymes that digest the “glue” that holds skin cells together. The dead skin cells then become trapped in the pore by oil, and prevent flow from the follicle. This results in skin thickening and pore clogging; known as micro comedos.Acne sufferers also have higher levels of bacteria. The clogged pores prevent oxygen from getting into the pore, causing bacteria to feed on the excess oil and produce fatty acid waste. The result? Irritation, inflammation, redness infection—factors when combined form pimples.Hormonal imbalances due to puberty, menstrual cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome, and menopause are also well-known causes of acne. When testosterone spikes and estrogen levels drop this increases oil production, which clogs the pores and causes breakouts.
Genes and acne go hand in hand. Did you know there is an acne gene that predisposes certain people to develop acne? If parents had acne, their children are likely to have it too. Also, darker-skinned ethnicities tend to have thicker, oilier skin, which makes them more prone to acne, while those of Spanish descent have another gene that makes them more prone to cystic acne. Demographically, women and teens are most disposed to acne; however, newborns can also have acne, which is believed to be transferred by the hormones of the mother.
Acne triggers are factors that arise from outside the acne sufferer, including stress, diet, pore clogging beauty products, sunscreen, lack of regular skincare routine, touching or picking of blemishes, hair removal, pH or acidity, the environment, certain medical conditions and medications, yeast, certain clothes and bacteria from contact with items we use on a daily basis (makeup brushes, phones or pillowcases). Note: It is the “proneness” to acne that allows acne to be triggered by these factors.
Stress, a mighty influencer, causes an influx of hormones, which increase oil production and lead to acne breakouts. Stress also causes inflammation, which can further weaken and break pore walls and release pus into surrounding tissue, causing even more inflammation.
Diets including French fries and chocolate have been blamed for causing acne. Although this has been disputed for many years, recent studies prove that refined carbohydrates (white flour and sugar), foods with a high glycemic index, coffee and dairy from cows treated with hormones are the culprits that increase breakouts. Additional foods linked with acne include gluten, trans-fats, synthetic foods, acid-forming foods and those that cause inflammation. A diet low in antioxidants and linoleic acid is also believed to trigger acne.
Beauty products, tools and misuse of products have the power to help or hurt acne. Skincare, makeup and hair care products that contain pore-clogging oils, talc and petroleum are identified as acne triggers. This is called acne cosmetica. On the other hand, all Pevonia® acne products refrain from these and other known irritants. The Clarigel Exfoliating Cleanser; Problematic Skin Care Cream; Spot Treatment; SpaTeen® Blemished Skin Cleanser; SpaTeen® Blemished Skin Toner; SpaTeen® Blemished Skin Moisturizer and SpaTeen® Blemished Skin Blemish-B-Gone are free from acne-building stimulants.
Rather than helping, overusing acne products and excess cleansing or exfoliation disturb the skin’s protective barrier. This dries the skin, plus causes redness and flaking, which is counterproductive to healing breakouts. Using makeup brushes that have not been cleaned, or coming in contact with bacteria laden fingers, phones or pillowcases can also trigger acne breakouts. And while sunscreen is a must, synthetically-sourced chemical sunscreens irritate the skin and trigger breakouts. The Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 by Pevonia is noncomedogenic and contains naturally-sourced ingredients instead.
Touching the face, and deliberately picking blemishes or breakouts transfers bacteria from hands to the face, spreading bacteria, which can multiply acne breakouts. Picking can also rupture pimples, interrupt healing and cause scarring.
Waxing, tweezing, depilatories and shaving products applied before or after use can cause swelling and irritation, plus clogs pores and leads to breakouts. Note: Not all red bumps are acne related; instead, it can be irritation due to the hair removal process.
Ph, the balance of acidity and alkalinity, can trigger acne as well. When the ph is outside the normal range of 4-6.5 and slightly acidic, skin cells do not multiply normally and cannot effectively protect itself from bacteria, causing breakouts. Ph balance can be altered by diet, skincare products and even excessive or improper exfoliation, which may induce infection and acne.
Changes in environment such as humid weather or climates, especially while traveling can cause breakouts. Changes in water can cause breakouts too. Environmental pollutants like industrial waste or food products contaminated with chloracnegens or halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons like dioxin can cause chloracne, which appears as cysts and blackheads or whiteheads (non-inflammatory comedones).
Medical conditions of the digestive or endocrine systems are prime acne triggers. A sluggish digestion, constipation and food allergies are examples of digestive issues that can trigger acne breakouts. Endocrine issues like polycystic ovary syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome and other hormonal imbalances can cause acne as well.
Yeast overgrowth such as candidiasis in the body is also believed to be a trigger. High sugar, high fat and low fiber diets, lifestyle, medications (long-term antibiotic use) or stress can cause an overgrowth of candida albicans yeast, which overtakes good bacteria and penetrates the stomach lining with health problems.
Additional acne triggers include certain medications, clothing, sweat, heat and working with oils on a regular basis. Medications that can trigger acne include androgens, barbiturates, corticosteroids and lithium. Clothing and accessories such as bra straps, turtlenecks, football shoulder pads and headbands fit tight and when rubbed against the skin can trigger acne.