What is acne, what causes it and how can you treat it?

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Samantha Hey



Acne and spot prone skin can have a damaging effect on your client’s self-confidence and is a condition that many will be looking to treat. If you want to treat acne and spot prone skin in your skin clinic, or complement your existing treatments with skincare products, it’s important to know more about what acne is and what causes it so you can provide the most effective treatment. 

In this guide, we’ll take a look at what acne and spot prone skin is, what causes it and how AESTHETICARE’s Biretix products work to prevent the development of and reduce spots. 

What is acne?

Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition that causes spots and pimples to appear on areas such as the face, neck, shoulders, back and chest. It usually occurs during puberty and is most common in teenagers but it can affect people of any age. The condition can leave clients feeling self-conscious and can leave skin scars and hyperpigmentation once the spots have disappeared. 

What causes acne and spots? 

Acne and spots start when secretions from the skin’s sebaceous glands (oil glands) plug the openings for hair follicles in the skin. In large openings, the clogs form as blackheads (small, flat spots with dark centres), if the openings stay small, the clogs form as whiteheads (small, flesh coloured bumps). 

Both of these plugged pores can develop into red, swollen and inflamed spots and pimples.

Acne has three main causes: 

  1. Overactive sebaceous (oil) glands
  2. Abnormal shedding of dead skin cells 
  3. Production of acne causing bacteria 

All three of these must be present in the skin for acne to occur. Let’s take a look at these causes in more detail.  

Overactive sebaceous glands 

Sebaceous glands are the tiny glands in skin which make an oil called sebum. It lubricates the surface of the skin but, in people who are prone to acne, their oil glands make more sebum than is needed. This additional sebum remains in the pores and blocks sebaceous ducts. 

Blockages in the follicles are called comedones which are the starting point for acne blemishes including blackheads, whiteheads and cystic breakouts. 

Abnormal shedding of dead skin cells 

The top layer of the skin (epidermis) constantly sheds dead skin cells as the skin exfoliates and renews itself. The epidermis has a number of layers and new skin cells are made in the deepest layer. These new cells travel through the epidermal layers until they make their way to the top layer (stratum corneum). 

Once the cells get to the stratum corneum they’re usually dead. These dead skin cells fall away and are replaced by the new cells pushing up from below. However, for those with acne or spot prone skin, this process doesn’t work as well and more skin cells are produced than those without acne. 

Production of acne causing bacteria 

Cutibacterium acnes (C.acnes) are bacteria found on the skin. In some people with acne the (C.acnes) population grows out of control. When pores become clogged by dead skin cells and sebum, it blocks oxygen from getting into the pore. The bacteria makes a fatty acid waste as the oil trapped in the pore is digested. This waste irritates the pore’s lining which causes redness and inflammation. In response to the inflammation, white blood cells rush to the surface and, when they die, they mix with dead skin cells and make pus.  

Other factors that can trigger or make acne and spot prone skin worse 

While the above are the most common causes of acne and spots, other factors can also contribute including: 

  • Hormonal changes – the main cause of acne is thought to be a rise in androgen levels. Androgens are the hormones that increase in boys and girls during puberty and cause sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Excessive sebum can break down cellular walls of the pores and causes bacteria to grow. 
  • Medications –  some medications can trigger acne such as those containing corticosteroids or testosterone. 
  • Diet – some foods including carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, bagels and chips can make acne worse. 
  • Stress – although stress does not cause acne, for those who already have acne, stress can make it worse. 

Types of spots 

Spots and acne are all caused by the same factors but they can vary in size and colour. Here are the types of spots: 

  • Whiteheads – these stay under the skin and are small 
  • Blackheads – these are clearly visible, are black and appear on the surface of the skin 
  • Papules – these are visible on the surface of the skin, are red at the base and have pus at the top 
  • Pustules – are clearly visible on the surface of the skin and are also red at the base with pus at the top 
  • Nodules – are clearly visible on the surface of the skin and are large, painful pimples embedded deeply in the skin 
  • Cysts – these are painful and full of pus and are the spots that can cause scars

How does Biretix work for acne and spot prone skin? 

Biretix is an innovative, clinically proven skincare range designed by Cantabria Labs, to purify, treat and care for oily and spot-prone skin

Biretix combines an innovative and patented Vitamin A complex – RetinSphere Technology – and a gentle and effective anti-microbial peptide – BIOPEP-15 – with carefully selected active ingredients including Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Niacinamide, to purify, treat and care for oily and spot-prone skin. 


Purify involves cleansing the skin to remove makeup and impurities as well as reduce sebum production and target the bacteria in the skin that can cause spots, whilst soothing the skin and reducing redness. Cleansing helps to prepare the skin in order to enhance the performance of other treatments and maintain the results of your in-clinic treatments. 


The products that form part of the Biretix treat range are designed to rapidly reduce the number of spots and the associated characteristics such as redness and shine, and improve post inflammatory scarring and hyperpigmentation. Its unique formulations effectively target all components involved in the development of spots to reduce spot-causing bacteria, remove dead skin cells, regulate sebum production and reduce inflammation to prevent and reduce the development of spots. The Biretix ‘treat’ range is also clinically proven to have excellent skin tolerance. 


This involves treatment aftercare to help enhance treatments, support skin health and restore hydration post-treatment. This includes the Hydramat moisturiser, which is designed  to provide long-lasting hydration, mattify the skin and reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation. 

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