The cause of acne is a complex biological issue. Reasons for acne are understood to result from several related factors.

The most important and common acne causes are:

  1. Firstly, rising levels androgen hormones during puberty cause the sebaceous glands to increase the size and make more sebum, contributing to the likelihood of acne outbreaks. But most sufferers do not have abnormal amounts of hormones for their age and sex. Possibly the sebaceous glands of sufferers are more sensitive to normal levels of the hormones, resulting in the biological acne causes described below.
  2. Secondly, heredity or genetics; the tendency to develop acne can be inherited from parents. Acne biology runs in the family. If one of your parents suffered from severe acne, this makes it more likely that you too may suffer from severe acne.

The Biological Cause of Acne

Acne is a disease of the skin’s ‘pilosebaceous’ units. These units consist of a sebaceous gland connected to a hair-containing canal called a follicle. Sebaceous glands produce an oily substance called sebum which is secreted down the hair canal and onto the surface of the skin.

Dead skin cells from the inner lining of the follicle flake off and are carried to the surface of the skin by the flow of sebum. But when these dead cells are shed too fast or become sticky, they clump together and block the follicle. Sebum is trapped behind the blockage, mixes with the dead cells and causes bacteria to grow in the plugged follicle.

This is the main biological cause of acne, leading to inflammation and eventually bursting out onto the skin surface causing irritation and lesions. Such lesions usually occur on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Although not a serious health risk, chronic cases can cause permanent scarring.