How oleic acid causes acne and how to avoid it?
How acne infections develop?
Testosterone is an androgen hormone that targets the skin and the sebaceous glands where sebum is produced. It combines with the enzyme 5alpha-reductase and produces dihydrotestosterone, which stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce increased volumes of sebum. This causes sebum to expel out into the follicular tube.
Propionibacterium acnes and other bacteria, which are on the skin and within follicles, produce bacterial lipases. These lipases move into the follicle opening and convert sebum into free fatty acids, which irritate the follicle lining. This irritation causes excessive production of cells and cellular debris, which block the follicle and trap P. acnes inside. P. acnes inside the blocked follicle breed and produce acne infections. Infections grow and irritate and inflame the skin. Macrophage cells of P. acnes produce histamines that cause the skin to become red, puffy and sensitive or even itchy. This leads to more follicle blockage and promotes more acne infections.
Linoleic acid prevents acne infections
Linoleic acid is a normal component of sebum. It is an essential fatty acid required by the body. It is generally known as omega oil, fish oil, safflower oil and in other terms. Essential fatty acids are very powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Sebum made with linoleic acid is healthy for the skin. Modern foods lack these essential oils. Instead they contain trans-fatty acids that may break down the body's supply of essential fatty acids.
Oleic acid causes acne
Due to low consumption of essential fatty acids or high consumption of trans-fats or hereditary factors, some people have systemic deficiency of essential fatty acids and linoleic acid. This condition is a driving factor for acne and other skin problems.
When linoleic acid is not available in the skin, the sebaceous gland produces sebum with oleic acid. This causes irritation in the skin and promotes acne. Sebum with oleic acid is drier, firmer and more prone to cause blackheads, whiteheads and promote follicular plugs that lead to acne infections.
How to avoid this?
People with very dry skin and continual follicle blockage – that lead to blackheads, whiteheads and acne - may benefit from increasing their consumption of foods rich in linoleic acid or taking supplements such as flax seed oil. But, don’t take flax seed supplements if pregnant or nursing.