Why Do I Get Acne?
Acne is a situation of the skin that shows up as different types of bumps. These bumps can be blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts. Teens get acne because of the hormonal changes that come with puberty. If your parents had acne as teens, it’s more likely that you will, too. The good news is that, for most people, acne goes away almost totally by the time they are out of their teens.
The type of acne that a lot of teens get is called acne vulgaris (the meaning of “vulgaris” isn’t as bad as it sounds — it means “of the common type”). It commonly shows up on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back, and chest.
The hair follicles, or pores, in your skin contain sebaceous glands (also called oil glands). These glands make sebum, which is an oil that lubricates your hair and skin. Most of the time, the sebaceous glands make the right amount of sebum. As the body begins to mature and develop, though, hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to make more sebum.
Pores become clogged if there are too much sebum and too many dead skin cells. Bacteria (especially one called Propionibacterium acnes) can then get trapped inside the pores and multiply. This reasons swelling and redness — the start of acne.
If a pore gets clogged up and closes but bulges out from the skin, you’re left with a whitehead. If a pore gets clogged up but stays open, the top surface can darken and you’re left with a blackhead. Sometimes the wall of the pore opens, allowing sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells to make their way under the skin — and you’re left with a small, red bump called a pimple (sometimes pimples have a pus-filled top from the body’s reaction to the bacterial infection).
To help prevent the oil buildup that can contribute to acne, wash your face once or twice a day with mild soap and warm water. Don’t scrub your face hard with a washcloth — acne can’t be scrubbed away, and scrubbing may actually make it worse by irritating the skin and pores. Try cleansing your face as gently as you can.
If you wear makeup or sunscreen, make sure it’s labeled “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic.” This means it won’t clog your pores and contribute to acne. And when you’re washing your face, be sure you take the time to remove all of your makeup so it doesn’t clog your pores.