Being Multicellular

Explorations in science and medicine.

Sebum and Acne

Sebum is oil produced by the sebaceous gland which covers all of the skin except for the palms of hands and soles of feet. Sebum contains triglycerides, diglycerides, fatty acids, wax esters, squalene and cholesterol [1] and sebaceous glands lie just below the dermis layer of the skin and sebum is secreted from them to the stratum corneum (the outermost layer) to maintain a hydrophobic barrier [3]- sebum makes skin waterproof. Sebum is not a product of fats consumed by the individual diet from rather manufactured specially to be stored by sebaceous glands.

Squalenes, lipids I had never heard of before, are hydrophobic chains of carbon atoms that form naturally occurring steroids and signal molecules.

Sebum is important because it lubricates the skin and hair [2] by creating an acidic environment of 4.5-5.5 pH which forces the epidermal and cuticle cells to lie flat so that cells don’t pull apart which then leads to dehydration and irritation of the skin and brittle hair.

However, too much sebum, produces oily skin and can block pores, leading to acne. Clogged pores leads to acne because it creates a low oxygen environment supporting the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Also, sebum is a great food source for acne-causing bacteria and therefore bacterial growth. When sebum is broken down, it may also release molecules that lead to inflammation and cause inflammatory acne [3] and it seems like people with oily skin have different type of sebum than those with normal skin like decreased fatty acids and increased levels of squalene and glycerides [3]; there must be a genetic factor.

Another factor is having an excess of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) [2] which triggers the sebaceous gland s to produce sebum so having higher levels of this hormone or having glands that may be more sensitive to the hormone leads to an excess of sebum production. DHT is also the reason why acne starts in the teenage years- it becomes more active in puberty and also why some females get more acne prone before and during menstruation; DHT rises at this time mirroring the rise of progesterone after ovulation.

Other factors like environmental factors, diet, genetics and metabolic conditions [3] could increase the production of sebum also because they are part of a balance that controls hormonal signals. Another hormone said to be involved in the acne party is testosterone and other androgen hormones, as males with high levels of them also have higher levels of sebum production and women with higher levels of those hormones have higher acne levels. Oestrogens are supposed to suppress anhydrous hormones [3] which links to how acne in women changes over menstruation

Sebaceous glands lie just below the dermis layer of the skin and sebum travels up through the dermis layer out of pores and hair follicles. The T-zone of the face has the most sebaceous glands- the forehead, nose and chin.

P.S. Shout out to praise for telling me to right about this!





©Being Multicellular 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Why are GP practices closing down?

1 in 20 GP’s have closed down since 2012 [1] and in 2016 alone 58 practices closed down with 34 more closing down due to merging of practices.

So why is this? Reasons for this crisis include:

Too little resources

There has been increased demand for primary care but the percentage of the NHS budget spent on general practice has decreased from 11% in 2006 to less than 8.5% at the moment [1], in fact,

Continue reading “Why are GP practices closing down?”

Health Risks of the Mines

Until 2001, mining was listed as the most dangerous industry job and in 2010, the Chilean Miners incident that shook the world but have mines been made safer places because of it? I would like to explore the health risks that miners face every day and if anything is being done about it for the International Day for Mine Awareness.

While the 33 Chilean miners were underground, there was risk of the air in the chamber and their inability to move causing blood clots but there are many daily dangers that miners face also: Continue reading “Health Risks of the Mines”

How the Ear Works

I woke up last Wednesday not being able to hear from my right ear. Eventually my hearing went back to normal but it got me thinking about how the ear works.

The ear is split into three parts which are further split into even more parts- is anything simple in biology?

There’s the Outer Ear which partly allows us to locate the source of the sound, like Continue reading “How the Ear Works”

Arab Physicians

I’ve been very interested in physicians who have influenced medicine who weren’t from the ‘traditional’ Western physician background; there have been many pioneering doctors who didn’t study in Greece or Europe! Today, I will explore the influence of Arab Physicians and how their influence led to Europe’s own medical renaissance. Enjoy! Continue reading “Arab Physicians”

The Stress Hormone

Cortisol is a steroid hormone made from cholesterol in the two adrenal glands above each kidney. It is best known for its role in the ‘fight or flight’ response and how, in stressful situations, it can increase the body’s energy production temporarily.

The secretion of cortisol is controlled by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland [2]. When there are low cortisol levels in the blood, Continue reading “The Stress Hormone”

What Is Locked In Syndrome?

Locked In Syndrome is also known as cerebromedullaspinal disconnection, de-efferented state and pseudocoma [1] and is a rare neurological disorder where the patient is conscious, awake and retain their sleep-wake cycles but can’t move or speak due to having complete paralysis of all of their voluntary muscles. The cognitive ability of the individual which is the ability to perceive information, their memory and reasoning remain unaffected which allows the individual to be able to sustain some form of communication by blinking. Continue reading “What Is Locked In Syndrome?”

Genetics in Eating Disorders

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder all have many possible genes that predispose the individual to the particular disorder in accompaniment to the main psychiatric aspect. Is it the media and unrealistic magazine images that ‘encourage’ this disorder or something that is predetermined by our DNA? Continue reading “Genetics in Eating Disorders”

What is Raynaud’s?- Raynaud’s Awareness Month.

Raynaud’s is a disease that causes parts of the body but usually the fingers and toes to feel numb and cold due to cold temperatures and stress. Other  affected areas may include the ears, nose, lips and nipple [2] It is quite a common condition with 20% of the adult population having it worldwide and 10 million being estimated to have it in the UK [2]. Continue reading “What is Raynaud’s?- Raynaud’s Awareness Month.”

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