While acne is not completely understood, there is a substantial knowledge of the biology behind it.
The main cause is an oily substance produced by your body called sebum, whose main function is to help keep your skin and hair lubcricated. During the adolescent years, the body can overproduce sebum which then combines with dead skin cells and clogs pores.
The build-up of oil beneath the skin's surface in these clogged pores creates an environment where bacteria can thrive. When these bacteria form, the skin become red and inflamed and causes what we call a pimple.
The overproduction of the substance sebum is brought on by testosterone. While this is a male hormone, it is present in both males and females. During puberty, the body starts to react to testosterone differently and this new reaction is what causes the skin to become more oily.
By the early 20's, most people's body acclimatizes to the presence of testosterone and the acne problem goes away.
Acne has been shown to be hereditary to a certain degree, but there is no conclusive reason that some people are affected while other aren't. Some of the contributing factors appear to be stress, diet, skin type, and certain medications.
Some of the medications that often contribute to acne problems are anabolic steroids, halogens, androgens and lithium.
Diet-related factors seem to be primarily related to skim milk based products. While many people associate chocolate and greasy foods with pimples, there is in fact no evidence that they are actually related.
It is tempting to “pop" pimple but this can actually lead to a more severe problem. Squeezing the pimple can cause the bacteria to spread to the surrounding skin, which can lead to more pimples. Plus, squeezing them can lead to scarring of the skin, which in the worst cases may be permanent.
Even the simple - and often unconscious - act of touching your face can be a factor in acne. Our hands contain oils and bacteria that can lead to further problems for people who are suffering with acne.
This extends to anything that comes in contact with the face - telephones, glasses, sunglasses, hats, etc. Anything that could potentially be carrying bacteria could ultimately lead to a more serious acne problem.
John Lenaghan writes about acne control and other acne related topics on the Acne Squad website. For more information visit http://www.acnesquad.com