In some cases, they persist into adulthood but the mechanisms at play in adult acne are quite different. We are going to explore the age at which acne starts, its causes, the typical forms in adolescence, and the aggravating factors.
At what age does acne start?
Acne begins during puberty and varies depending on the individual. It is triggered by the production of sex hormones, which depends on several biological and environmental factors. Girls and boys are not necessarily affected at the same age or in the same places.
In general, there are pimples and blackheads on the face and the areas with the most sebaceous glands, i.e. the upper back, cleavage, and T-zone.
Where do pimples come from?
Sex hormones are responsible for numerous physical changes in adolescence, especially in the functioning of the sebaceous glands.
- Temporarily active at birth under the influence of the mother’s hormones which are passed on to the child at the end of pregnancy, the sebaceous glands are at rest between the ages of six months and nine or ten years and are then reactivated during puberty. They start to produce a large quantity of sebum, which is typically evacuated through hair ducts.
- In parallel, dysseborrhoea alters the composition of sebum, and squalene becomes oxidised. It then thickens. As a result, skin pores become clogged. Blackheads and pimples then appear when the excess sebum is no longer able to flow through the pilo-sebaceous follicle as usual. This sebum blocks the hair duct and becomes trapped, initially forming a comedo. Bacteria multiply inside the comedo and contribute to the development of pimples.
- Heredity should also be taken into account. The family factor alone can probably not explain why acne occurs, but it can provide insight as to its severity. If both parents have had acne, the risk for the children is higher. The characteristics of sebum have a genetic component, although there are several other related factors involved.
What are the typical forms of adolescent acne?
Adolescent acne is polymorphous, comedonal and inflammatory, caused by the accumulation of sebum that cannot be evacuated. There are two types of blemishes: