Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States and on average affects 40 to 50 million people. Acne typically affects teenagers but can also affect newborns and adults. It most commonly affects the face, chest, shoulders, and back but can affect other areas of the body as well. Acne can appear in multiple forms on the skin such as whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, papules, cysts and nodules. Acne has multiple causes and can occasionally indicate an underlying medical condition.
Acne is most commonly caused by oil on the skin or dead skin cells that clog the pores. Propionibacterium acnes, P. acnes, is a bacterium that lives on the skin that can get inside the pores and trigger acne as well. Acne also has a genetic component, meaning that it can be inherited from your mother or father. It is important to treat acne because if left untreated it can cause scarring, dark spots on the skin, low self esteem, and in some cases depression.
Acne can be an indicator of an underlying medical condition as well. The most common underlying cause of acne is a change in your hormone levels. This can occur with age, pregnancy, menopause, polycystic ovarian syndrome, elevated testosterone, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, adrenal tumors, or ovarian tumors. If you have severe acne or acne that suddenly develops or worsens it is important to see your dermatologist to determine if further testing is necessary to rule out these conditions.
Hormone changes are not the only underlying cause of acne. Diet changes such as increased carbohydrates or dairy products can also cause acne. Decreasing your intake of carbohydrates and dairy product could help improve you acne. Increasing your water intake can also improve your acne and the overall appearance of your skin. Evaluating your stress level is also important as stress can cause acne. Taking the appropriate actions to decrease your stress could improve your acne. Smoking can also trigger acne, and taking the appropriate actions to stop smoking could improve your acne. Also, the kind of makeup you wear can trigger acne. It is important to avoid liquid foundation makeup and instead use a loose powder mineral makeup.
Acne is a very common skin condition, but occasionally can be indicative of an underlying cause such as hormonal changes, diet changes, increased stress, smoking, or even the kind of makeup you use. It is important to ensure that you be evaluated by your dermatologist if you have acne to determine if further testing to rule out an underlying cause is necessary.