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Acne and similar skin problems are a common problem amongst people of all ages, but more especially young people and adolescents. Over 17 million people suffer from acne in the United States of America alone. There are various causes of acne as well as various ways to treat and prevent it.

Acne can cause mental and physical problems to sufferers whatever their age. Physical problems include scarring of the skin tissue due to the healing process and also the fact that spots, blackheads and pimples are painful for the sufferer. Mental issues that can arise from somebody suffering from acne include low self esteem and other confidence problems. Many acne sufferers are adolescents going the puberty and during puberty most young people have an increased sensitivity to personal appearance and acne. Therefore any outbreaks of acne, however large or small can lead to great embarrassment to the sufferer.

One of the main causes of acne, especially acne that occurs in adolescents going through puberty, is the fact that during this stage of life the body produces higher levels of the male hormone, testosterone. This causes an increase in the size of the sebaceous oil glands. This excess oil that is produced means that pores become blocked. Pores don�t just become blocked by the sebaceous oil itself though. The oil can also trap dirt particles and bacteria which also contribute to pores becoming blocked and acne appearing.

Another cause of acne is the shedding of dead skin cells. These cells are shed more quickly and increase in number and cause blockages in the hair follicles or pores. The combination of these blockages and the increases in sebaceous oil production provides the perfect environment for acne causing bacteria to grow and flourish.

As well as these two main causes of acne, there are other factors which contribute to this affliction. Women can experience an increase in the likelihood of acne during the first week of their menstrual cycle and can also experience acne problems during pregnancy. Both of these problems are due to changes in hormone levels in a woman�s body at the times outlined above. These imbalances and changes can again lead to an increase in the secretion of sebaceous oil as seen in puberty.

It has also been noted through research that sweating and excess perspiration can lead to an increase in acne problems in 15% of the population on average. Again this is due to an increase in the suitability of the skin condition for bacteria growth.

Another cause of acne in people of all ages is that of poor cleanliness and dirt. If dirt and small foreign particles get into the hair follicles and pores of the skin then blackheads and spots can appear and spread. This can also include unsuitable skin products and greasy hair products that come into contact with the skin and cause pore blockage.

Another contentious issue in the treatment and prevention of acne is the role that diet plays. Although traditionally scientists have denied that diet and the consumption of dairy products and greasy foods causes acne, recent research indicates that the modern, western diet can cause an increase in insulin levels and therefore testosterone levels which as stated previously increases acne.

Submitted by:

Carolyn Clayton

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