Connect the dots-Session 2

Now that we have learned the “what” of acne, we can begin to discover the “why” of acne. There are four main contributing factors that lead toward a face of blemishes. Excessive sebum production, abnormal desquamation process, the proliferation of the p. bacterium, and the inflammatory tissue reaction( an immune response). Once we learn why these are the contributing factors, we can then learn triggers of acne, as well as different grades. Today I will explain about excess sebum production.

The first contributing factor is EXCESS SEBUM PRODUCTION. Within the skin, our body has the option to produce a hair follicle or it will most likely produce a sebaceous follicle. Attached to both types of follicles are sebaceous GLANDS that produce a substance called sebum(skin oil). Depending on person and environment, these glands can produce a lot of oil.

If it becomes a hair follicle that grows into a thick hair, the sebum and debris can flow easily to the surface of the skin along the hair much like a candle “wick”.

It is believed that within the sebaceous follicle, where there is less hair and acne is present acne may worsen. The reason for this is because without the substantial hair to serve as the “wick” the sebum and dead skin cells build up faster and acne becomes worse, and faster.

A blemish can take between 2 to 3 weeks to reach the surface of the skin, even though it seems like they appear overnight.

When you look at sebum from a chemical standpoint it is a complex mixture of fats(lipids). It is composed of at least eight different lipid components including polar lipids, neutral lipids, and wax esters( a combination of fatty acids and alcohol). Bacteria then breakdown these sebum triglycerides into diglycerides, monoglycerides, and fatty acids. This is one of the main processes that needs to be controlled.

Sebum does have a role within our skin, It provides barrier protection and assists in skin hydration, but over-production of sebum leads to acne.

Hormones can also play a huge role in the over production of sebum. Normal production of sebum begins at puberty. Between the ages of 8 and 12 during the period when sex hormones are stimulated, sebaceous follicles of face, chest, upper back, shoulders, and upper arms are stimulated; the sebaceous glands are enlarged and produce more sebum.

The male hormone testosterone (found in both males and females) stimulates development of the sebaceous follicle and glands. It is actually not the testosterone, but the dihydrotestosterone( a component) that affects the stimulation. At puberty a special enzyme present in the skin changes the testosterone into dihydrotestosterone and flows through the blood and reaches the skin. It is basically “supercharged” and begins to stimulate the sebaceous glands and follicles to start producing oil. This is why many teenagers are plagued with acne. It is not their fault, just their body’s natural path.

However, adult acne plagues many of us as well, either hitting us in our twenties, or in late 40’s, 50’s, and even 60’s. These erratic fluctuations normally only effect women. The reason for this is because during menstruation/or lack of, estrogen drops, and there is an increase again in the levels of the sebum producing hormone testosterone. This is also what accounts for “menstrual flare-ups”.

” 60 Million Americans experience active acne” -Statistics on Acne Prevalence 2012

Next post we will discuss more of the contributing factors for acne. Seems like a lot of people are experiencing the same issue. After we dive more into these contributing factors to the “why” of acne, I will explain in-depth solutions for treatment if you are struggling yourself, or want to help a family member. It is actually very simply once you get some things in order.

“Beauty is Power; a smile is its sword”-Charles Reade




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