What is acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It typically appears on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders.


Here’s how it happens:


  • Overproduction of Oil (Sebum): Your skin has tiny glands called sebaceous glands that produce an oily substance called sebum. Sebum helps keep your skin lubricated. However, sometimes these glands produce too much sebum, which can mix with dead skin cells and block hair follicles.


  • Bacterial Growth: The blocked hair follicles create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. One common bacterium involved in acne is called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). When these bacteria multiply within the clogged follicles, they can cause inflammation and redness.


  • Inflammation: When the hair follicles become clogged and infected, your body’s immune system responds by sending white blood cells to the area to fight the infection. This immune response can lead to inflammation, swelling, and the formation of pimples.


Types of Acne:


  • Whiteheads: Closed plugged pores.
  • Blackheads: Open plugged pores.
  • Papules: Small red bumps.
  • Pustules: Pimples with pus at their tips.
  • Nodules: Large, solid, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin.
  • Cysts: Deep, painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin.


Acne can be influenced by various factors including hormonal changes (common during puberty), genetics, certain medications, diet, stress, and improper skin care routines.


What is the relationship between acne and oxidative stress?

The relationship between acne and oxidative stress is complex and multifaceted. Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to neutralize them with antioxidants. In the context of acne, oxidative stress can exacerbate inflammation, contribute to the development of acne lesions, and impede the skin’s ability to heal.


Here’s how oxidative stress relates to acne:


  • Inflammation: Oxidative stress can trigger inflammatory responses in the skin, leading to redness, swelling, and pain associated with acne lesions. Inflammatory mediators produced in response to oxidative stress can further aggravate existing acne lesions and contribute to the formation of new ones.


  • Sebum Production: Sebaceous glands in the skin produce sebum, an oily substance that lubricates and protects the skin. However, excessive sebum production can contribute to the development of acne by clogging pores and providing a favorable environment for acne-causing bacteria. Oxidative stress may stimulate sebum production, exacerbating acne symptoms.


  • Alteration of Skin Barrier Function: Oxidative stress can disrupt the skin’s barrier function, making it more susceptible to environmental pollutants, allergens, and microbial invasion. A compromised skin barrier may allow acne-causing bacteria to penetrate deeper into the skin, leading to more severe acne lesions.


  • Delayed Wound Healing: Acne lesions are essentially wounds on the skin, and oxidative stress can impair the skin’s ability to heal properly. Prolonged oxidative stress can delay the resolution of acne lesions, leading to persistent inflammation and scarring.


  • Antioxidant Defense: Antioxidants play a crucial role in neutralizing ROS and protecting the skin from oxidative damage. In individuals with acne, there may be an imbalance between ROS production and antioxidant defense mechanisms, leading to increased oxidative stress. Boosting antioxidant levels through diet, supplements, or topical skincare products may help mitigate oxidative stress and improve acne symptoms.


Overall, while oxidative stress is not the sole cause of acne, it can contribute to its development and exacerbation by promoting inflammation, sebum production, and impaired wound healing.