Why does acne happen?

Patricia Farris, MD

There are several things that have to occur in order to create the perfect storm for acne. First, hormones turn on sebaceous glands increasing oil production. This oil is secreted into the hair follicle where it travels up to the surface of the skin. In acne, skin cells at the opening of the follicle become sticky causing a tiny plug of dead cells that block the opening. This blocked follicle is called a comedone and is seen on the surface as a blackhead or white head. As oils collect inside the hair follicle it begins to swell and eventually ruptures. The oil filled follicle is a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria called Proprionobacterium acne. Eventually, immune cells enter the area in attempt to fight off the bacteria. These cells trigger an inflammatory response resulting in pustules and papules that are seen in acne. 

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Acne triggers can be hormonal changes (which is why so many teenagers and pregnant women suffer from it). Instigators also include genetics, certain foods, and stress. Anything irritating that is put on your skin or done to it, intentionally or not (from a glycolic lotion to scrubbing too hard), can generate an inflammatory response that pops up as one pimple - or a few.
Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
No one is completely sure why people develop acne. However, it's clear that acne happens when skin pores become clogged with oil. Pores are tiny openings in the skin. Your skin produces oil to stay moist and supple. However, when oil clogs these pores, it can trap dead skin cells. This can cause acne in the form of growths called blackheads and whiteheads. When bacteria on the skin becomes trapped in pores, the skin can become inflamed. This inflammation causes reddened bumps commonly known as pimples. Your doctor can give you more information about acne happens and how it can be treated.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.