All About Acne

Acne is an inflammatory and chronic skin disorder of hair follicles of the neck, chest, face, shoulders, upper arms, and back. It causes pimples, boils, spots, scars, whiteheads, and blackheads over the skin, but not so serious. It is most commonly occurring in all teenagers, and in some adults during their period of puberty. There are some small pores present on our skin. Acne occurs when these pores are up with oil, dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells. Sometimes, the spots can range from painful to severe boils. These are inflamed and pus-filled with intense pain.

It is categorized into following three categories:

  • Mild (few pimples)
  • Moderate (inflammatory papules)
  • Severe (cysts and nodules)

It can be classified into following ways according to Doctor Sam Bunting:

  • Inflamed spots: These are usually in the form of red bumps with white heads(pustules), red bumps(papules) and nodules (more deep-seated bumps)
  • Non-inflamed lesions(comedones): These are open and close pores (blackheads) or closed. Cysts are in this category.

In most of the cases, individuals exhibit both inflamed and non-inflamed lesions. Acne usually occurs where the sebaceous glands are the most prominent.

What causes Acne?

Acne occurs whenever excess oil is produced by skin. Oil not only blocks pores, but also causes dead skin cells to stick together, making them very difficult for the skin to excrete. The actual cause of acne is still not known. Some physical, environmental, or emotional factors are thought to cause acne. Some of them are:

  • Hormones: Sex hormones called androgens are responsible for sebum production. The rise in androgens levels is the most common cause of acne. These high levels cause enlargement of the oil glands under the skin. The more the glands become enlarged, the more is the production of sebum. Cellular walls are broken by excessive sebum within pores. Thereby, causing the growth of the bacteria. Hormonal changes associated with menstruation, puberty, hormonal birth control methods, and pregnancy can cause acne outbreaks.
  • Stress: Stress is the root cause of all problems. Certain hormones are produced due to stress which in result stimulate the production of oil from the oil glands, and thus causes acne.
  • Family History: If your family or close relatives have had acne, then there are chances of getting acne to their offspring.
  • Side Effects of Medication: Acne can also be as a side effect of some medicines. If you doubt that your acne is being caused by your medicine, then ask your dermatologist for an alternative.
  • Skincare Products: As per the recommendation, use good quality skin products, as the chemicals present in these products can irritate your skin, and cause pimples.
  • High Glycemic Foods and Dairy Products: High glycemic foods such as bakery goods can cause pimples acne. Consumption of dairy products is not good for your skin because they have high calcium content.
  • Cosmetics: Oil-based makeup is one of the causes of acne. It is recommended to use water-based cosmetics instead of oil-based.
  • Environmental Factors: The changes in the environment such as the humidity, weather, water, and temperature can also cause acne.

Some Possible Treatments and Therapies for Acne

The main task of the treatment is to eliminate or reduce the symptoms of acne. Dermatologist usually prescribes medications according to the severity of your condition.

  • Mild acne can be easily treated by using over the counter remedies containing Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and similar chemicals. These treatments can be in different forms including gels, creams, cleansers, sprays, and pads. In start of these treatment you may feel some skin irritation, but it will disappear automatically within few days.
  • For Moderate and severe acne, you have to consult with your dermatologist because he can examine your condition well, and recommend a course according to your condition.

The most common medications for acne are as follows:

  • Topical and Oral Antibiotics: The most commonly used antibiotics are Erythromycin, Doxycycline and Minocycline. All of them kill bacteria that are responsible for inflammation, and are very useful when acne is increased or inflamed. Topical Retinoid is very helpful in removing blackheads and whiteheads by unclogging the pores.
  • Oral Contraceptives: These can help to control hormone-related outbreaks in women. The most common side effects of using these drugs are breast tenderness, nausea, and weight gain.
  • Isotretinoin: It is a very effective drug and is to treat large cysts. Size of oil glands become reduced by Isotretinoin, resulting in great improvement in people with severe acne.

Skin therapies

  • Light and Laser Therapy:

This kind of therapy reduces the growth of bacteria on the skin, disrupt oil production temporarily, and also reduce scarring.

  • Cosmetic Procedures: Microdermabrasion and chemical peels can help to treat scarring and manage acne.
  • Soft Tissue Filter: In this kind of therapy, therapist inject fat and collagen into scarred areas to smooth them.
  • Removal of Severe Cysts: Dermatologist sometimes drain severe cysts with a needle to stop the infection.

Read more about; How to cure skin diseases?

Prevention and Management Tips:

Follow some basic tips and remedies to prevent acne outbreaks:

  • Wash your face with acne soap at least twice a day.
  • Do not burst pimples, as this may cause the infection more severe, causing more swelling, blocking, and redness.
  • While talking on telephone, try to hold it away from your face, as it is likely to contain skin residue and sebum.
  • Before applying creams, lotions and makeup, wash your hands frequently.
  • Try to wear loose clothes if your acne is on back, chest and shoulders.
  • Excessive exposure to sun can produce more sebum, so avoid it.
  • Avoid stress and anxiety because they can increase adrenaline and cortisol production, which exacerbate acne.
  • Do not rub your face with towel after washing, only use a soft cloth.
  • Steam your face, as it helps in opening the pores and make the removal of blackheads and pimples very effectively and easily.
  • Skin peeling and dryness are the most common side effects of acne. Use moisturizer to prevent these effects.
  • Perspiration can clog pores. So try to take shower every time after sweating.

Almost all kind of acne treatments, therapies, and tips are very effective, though the benefits may take few weeks to appear.