When acne strikes, many of us are not sure what to do. The scars it leaves behind leaves many of us feeling uncomfortable in facing people. Many would agree that even make-up doesn't always cover up the scars.

By Lubna Al Midfa

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Published: Tue 24 Feb 2004, 2:52 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:36 AM

Dr. Muna Bin Oun, dermatologist at the Baraha hospital says "The exact cause of acne is unknown, it is believed that it results from several different factors which are genetics, hormones, stress, diet, washing the face too often, cosmetic products and sometimes medications." She goes on to explain "if the patient's mum or dad had acne as a teenager, there's a good chance that he or she will have acne too."

Stress on the other hand is not a leading cause, it doesn't actually cause acne but can aggravate it or any other skin condition a person might have. Diet too, is not a leading factor, "There is no study to prove that food plays a critical role in acne. Some believe however that food allergies can trigger acne outbreaks."

Contrary to what many believe washing the face too often can aggravate the skin and cause acne to occur. Using greasy skincare products, oily cosmetics and hot humid weather can also clog the skin ducts and cause acne. It can also be a side effect of some drugs, including barbiturates, seizure medication and steroids.

Acne is now known to affect people of all ages. According to Dr. Muna, teenage acne, which occurs mainly down the middle of the face, is exacerbated as hormones surge throughout adolescence.

Adult female acne is common between 20 and 30 and is usually associated with stress and environmental factors like pollution. "Recent studies have proven a direct link between stress and acne. Researchers believe that it is the increase of glucocorticoids and adrenal androgens, both hormones known to worsen acne that are released during periods of emotional stress. These hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands, causing excess oil to build up in the pores, contributing to more acne. Other outside elements that can cause and aggravate acne in adult women include sun exposure, poor diet and contact with substances such as heavy fabric softeners, oil make up or some hair products".

According to Dr. Muna, there are many studies linking the hormonal changes with the stress, which flare up acne, and for some reason, relaxation does help some patients. If the acne is caused by a combination of several factors, relaxation alone is not enough.

Acne that is common in women as they enter pre-menopause and menopausal ages is known as hormonal acne. As early as the mid 30s, estrogen levels can begin to decline and cause changes in the skin, when Acne occurs, increased facial hair and thinning of the skin occurs.

The first mistake which acne sufferers make is dismiss it as just a phase, and that it will fade by its self. Others try using products such as tree tea oil or medicated soaps, which only help a few. Dr. Muna says, "Tree tee oil, usually found as washing cleanser or topical cream for external application, is very effective in mild acne and only as a combination treatment for severe and moderate acne". Some try herbal medicines, which can help some people but can take longer to cure the situation. "In my experience I haven't seen acne patients satisfied using herbal treatment".

Among the newest research and news about acne is the use of vitamin B5 to fight and cure acne, where a lack of the vitamin can lead to acne. When asked about this, Dr. Muna replied "a new hypothesis for the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris is that the disease process is not caused by androgens or any other sex hormones, but rather, the disease process results from a defect in lipid metabolism that is secondary to a deficiency in pantothenic acid (vitamin B)". She explains that it can help in some cases, and has been shown in controlled studies in the far east only, but has still not been approved by the FDA.

According to Dr. Muna, medical researchers are looking to find new drugs to treat acne, especially topical antibiotics to replace what is available at the moment. She says, "As with many other types of bacterial infections, it has been found that over time, the bacteria that are associated with acne are becoming resistant to the treatment of antibiotics." Researchers are studying the biology of sebaceous cells and testing a laser in laboratory animals to treat acne by disrupting sebaceous glands. She adds, "Scientists are also studying the treatment of androgenic disorders, including acne, in men, by inhibiting an enzyme that changes testosterone to a more potent androgen".

To treat acne, it is best that a person visit the dermatologist at its early stages as early treatment of acne prevents it developing in to serious acne.


Cosmetic acne-caused by comedogenic cosmetics. Most major cosmetic manufacturers label products as being non-comedogenic, and should always look for those words on the cosmetic label.

Acne Conglobata - Severe type of acne found occurs mostly in males and is caused by staphylococci or streptococci bacteria.

Neonatal Acne - Occurs in newborns or infants. Probably related to the glandular development that occurs during fatal life.

Steroid-induced acne- Is a type associated with the topical use of steroids. It is important to know about this type of acne only if you regularly apply steroid creams or ointments to your skin. Steroid acne is rare.

Occupational acne chloracne - This is caused when industrial chemicals called halogenated hydrocarbons come in contact with the skin. A person who gets this can take it home to other members to his or her family is the chemical on the clothes is handled by other family members.

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