Acne is a skin condition that affects both young men and young women alike. Not only that, acne is increasingly occurring in adults, and is an embarrassing problem for millions of men and women well into their thirties and forties. Has acne gotten worse over the past twenty years, or are we just imagining it?
Is it because we now have the internet and information is shared much more readily and easily that we know the true depth of the acne problem, or has it really become somewhat of an epidemic?
Well, my personal opinion is that acne has gotten much more widespread, especially in adults, and there may be any number of reasons for that, but at the heart of acne there is a culprit that can be both our friend, and in the case of acne, our enemy.
It's the male hormone (or androgen), testosterone. More specifically, it's a specific testosterone called DHT, or Dihydro Testosterone. This specific hormone, when produced in excessive amounts by the body, whether it be a female or male body, creates an environment for the oil glands to go into overdrive producing the natural oils that normally protect and moisturize the skin.
Normally, your oil glands are set to produce just enough oil to create the protective barrier between the environment and your skin, as well as act as a moisturizing agent, keeping the skin hydrated. When the oil glands are corrupted and begin to produce too much oil, things get nasty.
The oil has nowhere else to go, and so it clogs the pores, resulting in blackheads, whiteheads, cystic acne, and smaller acne lesions because of the inflammation caused by the clogged pore.
It's basically a case where your body's natural protective mechanisms are corrupted and begin to work against your skin rather than protect and moisturize it, as nature intended.
This testosterone overload is precisely why the best acne treatments are aimed at helping to balance the hormones again, so that can facilitate the natural equilibrium between estrogenic (female) hormones and androgenic (male) hormones that should exist in every man and woman.
Other effective acne treatments, like the controversial Acutane, otherwise known as isotretinoin, are aimed at actually drying up the oil glands. I happen to shy away from this method, because this means that when you age, you don't have those natural oil glands to protect your skin and keep the elasticity that keeps you looking young.
Acne is usually a problem rooted in hormonal imbalance, and very closely related to periods of life where hormones tend to be imbalanced. This is why people do tend to break out more in their adolescence, when the hormones are still finding their way to balance and the body is still developing and changing, and also in adults, when stressful periods occur, since hormone levels are very sensitive to stress in most individuals.
Some argue that our foods today may be causing increased cases of adolescent and especially adult acne, since our foods tend to contain a lot of hormones or hormone-mimicking compounds in them, and this interferes with the natural hormone balance of our bodies.
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