By Dr. Josh Zeichner
Acne is a common skin condition that 40 million people in the United States alone have. The face is most commonly affected by acne; understanding the anatomy of hair can help explain why.
Body hair is part of what is known as the pilosebaceous unit, composed of the hair follicle, sweat glands and muscle. The sweat glands, known as sebaceous glands, produce sebum, a natural oil that is released into the hair follicle.
Several key factors are involved in the development of acne. First, when the body produces large amounts of sebum, it can accumulate in the follicle if the pores are blocked. High oil levels allow a certain type of bacteria (called P. acnes) to grow and cause inflammation. Acne can take on different forms, ranging from skin-colored bumps to red, painful nodules.
The parts of your face that are densely covered with hair are most commonly affected by acne because more hair means more oil and clogged pores. While you can’t control the amount of oil your body produces, proper shaving and skin care can lower your risk for developing acne.