Does Bacteria Cause Acne?


The mechanism that underlies acne development, especially in the case of acne bacteria, is poorly understood. Most often attribute acne lesions directly to bacteria. To this fallacy we owe the constant pestering which most of us endured as children. There was not a day that could go by without your mother or father reminding you to scrub your face. In those days, parents were convinced that the washing would mean no bacteria and oils to create acne. Present day teenagers who have experimented with the washing regimen will tell you first hand that it is not enough.

Bacteria plays an important role in acne blemishes, however, it is not until the hair follicle becomes clogged that the p. acnes bacteria make their debut. Our facial skin contains a large number of pores, which are openings to the hair follicle. The hair follicle acts as a duct through which our body can excrete sebum. The sebum rises to the surface of the skin, allowing it to keep moisture intact.

The proper flow of sebum is compromised when a pore becomes obstructed. Normally, the skin is able to replenish itself on its own and shed dead cells. When it cannot, these cells have nowhere to go other than inside the pores. A clog traps sebum inside the hair follicle. Acne bacteria become out of control with a surplus of food and begin to multiply like crazy.

The surge of bacterial activity within the pore activates an immune response. This is what causes the inflammation associated with acne. Whiteheads are almost always inflamed, as are other pimples. We are often advised to pick at our lesions, which can quickly aggravate the problem. The bacteria can further penetrate the pore, or worse, spread elsewhere.

Acne treatments, above all, should focus on the primary culprit which is an improper skin turnover cycle. Prescription medications tend to be very good at treating this, such as topical retinoids. Dermatologists usually prescribe topicals for the bacteria and the normalize shedding. When the acne is unresponsive, medications that control sebum production are brought in. Overall, prescription products tend to be much more effective than store bought ones. If over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide does not suffice for your case of acne, you should visit a dermatologist.

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