What Causes Acne in Men?
The main cause of acne is the clogging of pores. Clogging can occur either because of hormonal changes or external factors.
Inside the pores under your skin are hair follicles containing sebaceous glands that produce sebum, a natural oil that keeps your skin moisturized. Sebum is secreted outwards from these glands and onto the surface of your skin through hair protruding from your pores. If your pores get blocked, sebum is trapped inside.
Clogged pores can cause sebum to accumulate along with dead skin cells and hair, creating acne. The involvement of bacteria can cause acne to grow in severity. The clogged pore becomes inflamed and pimples appear.
Fine particles and pollutants can clog your pores from the outside, while hormonal changes create clogs from inside your body.
Hormones are the main reason why puberty is linked to acne. Teenagers undergoing puberty experience increased hormone levels that cause the oil glands in their skin to go on overdrive. This causes the glands to produce excessive amounts of sebum, which clogs pores and forms acne.
The same thing can happen to adults.
In men, testosterone can cause acne outbreaks for the same reason. While this hormone is primarily meant to drive the development of male qualities like a deeper voice and larger muscles, it can also cause excessive sebum production.
Androgen is another hormone that can cause adult acne in men. High androgen levels also cause increased sebum production. This hormone is present in both men and women. However, men have a larger volume of androgen when compared to women because women’s bodies convert it into estrogen.
While testosterone production in men is at its highest during puberty, it gradually slows down with age, so expect fewer testosterone-induced acne breakouts as you pass the age of 30.
Stress and Cortisol
Stress is another factor that’s connected to acne breakouts in both men and women. This is due to a steroid hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol can control your mood and fuels your natural fight-or-flight response when faced with danger. Cortisol can also regulate your blood pressure, carbohydrate consumption, and boost your energy when needed.
When your body experiences physical, mental, or emotional stress, your adrenal glands produce high amounts of cortisol to prepare you for whatever challenge lies ahead.
Cortisol doesn’t directly cause acne. However, high cortisol levels caused by stress can lead to a series of events that eventually cause an acne breakout.
Stress can result in increased hormone levels that can cause sebaceous glands to rapidly produce oil, causing acne to form.
Certain stressful conditions can also trigger specific skin-related reactions on your body. Sleep deprivation, for example, can place your brain under a lot of stress and cause your skin to dry up. This forces your body to produce more sebaceous oil to keep the skin moisturized, which can lead to acne formation.
Additionally, studies show that high cortisol levels can slow down the healing of acne and wounds in general. Existing acne can end up worsening if you’re under constant stress.
Certain Types of Food
Some types of food are known to cause acne because of how they affect our body’s stress level and chemical makeup. Eating food that’s difficult to digest causes physical stress.
Consuming food that you are personally sensitive to may also cause acne breakouts. Your body recognizes it as a threat, triggering an immune response. This response is called a delayed hypersensitivity reaction and can lead to inflammation, which can lead to acne.
On the other hand, preliminary studies have deemed certain food types to be objectively more likely to cause acne breakouts. Food containing refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, white noodles, and sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to acne formation.
Such food can increase your insulin and blood sugar levels, which can make your body produce skin cells more rapidly. This excessive formation of skin cells can cause clogs in your pores.