In accordance with Acne Resource Center statistics, 60 million Americans are currently coping with active acne problems on their skin. One major area where acne could cause issues is on the face, specifically around the follicles of facial hair. Although men are more likely to deal with acne and facial hair, women also will be plagued with both facial hair growth and acne formation.
Skin Cells and Sebum
The hair follicles of your face are constantly shedding (sloughing) dead skin cells. As these follicles shed, they’ll combine with sebum within the follicles to create a small plug known as a comedone (whiteheads and blackheads). Sebum is a protective oil produced by tiny glands, known because the sebaceous glands, which reside beside the facial hair follicles.
Bacteria also play a role within the formation of acne in your facial hair follicles. The acne-related bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) can contribute to mild comedones progressing into more serious forms of acne, such as pustules. P. acnes bacteria will be present on your face at any time, but thrive within the low oxygen environment of a plugged follicle. This enables the bacteria to grow and multiply, causing infection and inflammation.
Hormones may play a role in both acne and facial hair formation. In men, androgen hormones comparable to testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can trigger the production of facial hair, and may increase the activity of the sebaceous glands, making the skin more liable to acne formation. Although androgens are more common in men, women also could be affected by these hormones. For example, both pregnancy and diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome can increase the degrees of androgens within the body, resulting in cases of female facial hair growth and acne. How much you are affected by these hormonal changes could be influenced by your genetic makeup, with some genes making you more susceptible to hormonal imbalances.
Some medications may also cause an increase in acne formation and facial hair growth. For instance, synthetic hormone medications including dehydroepiandrosterone, corticosteroids and anabolic androgenic steroids may cause a rise in sebum production, leading to acne development in both women and men. These medications also increase your androgen levels, which might lead to facial hair growth.