- 1 What is Acne??
What is Acne??
Acne is a long-term skin disease that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin there are many causes of acne.
Genetics is thought to be the cause in 80% of cases. The role of diet and cigarette smoking is unclear and neither cleanliness nor sunlight appear to be involved. Acne primarily affects skin with a greater number of oil glands, including the face, upper part of the chest, and back. Excessive growth of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, which is normally present on the skin, is often involved.
Types of acne, pimples and Hair follicle with acne
Human skin has pores (tiny holes causes of acne) which connect to oil glands located under the skin. The glands are connected to the pores via follicles - small canals. These glands produce Sebum, an oily liquid and it is one of causes of acne. The sebum carries dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin.
Whiteheads - remain under the skin and are very small
Blackheads - clearly visible, they are black and appear on the surface of the skin.
Papules - visible on the surface of the skin. They are small bumps, usually pink
Pustules - clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are red at their base and have pus at the top
Nobules - clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are large, solid pimples. They are painful and are embedded deep in the skin
Cysts - clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are painful, and are filled with pus. Cysts can easily cause scars.
Acne is the cause of spots. Most people with acne are aged between 12 and 25 but some older and younger people are affected. Boys are more commonly affected than girls. Acne usually affects the face but may also affect the back, neck and chest.
Understanding normal skin
Small sebaceous glands lie just under the skin surface. These glands make the oil (sebum) that keeps the skin supple and smooth. Tiny holes (pores) on the skin allow the sebum to come on to the skin surface. Hairs also grow through these pores thus becoming one of important causes of acne.
During the teenage years, you make much more sebum than when you were a child. This is due to the hormonal changes of puberty which stimulate the sebaceous glands. As a rule, the more sebum that you make, the more greasy your skin feels and the worse acne is likely to be. Some people make more sebum than others.
Mild-to-moderate acne - blackheads, whiteheads and small pimples
Some pores become blocked (plugged). This is due to the skin at the top of the pores becoming thicker, combined with dead skin cells that are shed into the pores. You can see the plugs that block the top of the pores as tiny spots known as blackheads and whiteheads.
Some sebum may collect under blocked pores. You can see this as small spots called pimples or papules. In some cases, acne does not progress beyond this mild-to-moderate stage when you can see a number of small pimples, blackheads and whiteheads.
Moderate-to-severe acne - larger spots and inflammation
Trapped sebum is ideal for a germ (bacterium) called Propionibacterium acnes to live and multiply. Small numbers of this bacterium normally live on the skin and do no harm.
However, if a large number develop in the trapped sebum, the immune system may react and cause inflammation. If inflammation develops, it causes the surrounding skin to become red and the spots become larger and filled with pus (pustules). In some cases the pustules become even larger and form into small nodules and cysts.
Rare causes of acne
The description above is the cause of almost all cases of acne. Rarely, certain diseases in girls and women may be causes of acne or make acne worse. For example, polycystic ovary syndrome and conditions that cause excess male hormone to be made in the ovary or adrenal gland.
These conditions cause other symptoms in addition to acne, such as thinning of scalp hair, excess growth of facial or body hair (hirsutism) and other problems. Another rare cause of acne is exposure to chemicals that occur in some workplaces.
What makes acne worse?
# Thick or greasy make-up may, possibly, make acne worse. However, most make-up does not affect acne. You can use make-up to cover some mild spots. Non-comedogenic or oil-free products are most helpful for acne-prone skin types.
# In women, the hormonal changes around the monthly period may cause a flare-up of spots.
# Picking and squeezing the spots may cause further inflammation and scarring.
# Sweating heavily or humid conditions may make acne worse. For example, doing regular hot work in kitchens. The extra sweat possibly contributes to blocking pores.
# Some medicines can make acne worse. For example, phenytoin (which some people take for epilepsy) and steroid creams and ointments that are used for eczema.
# Anabolic steroids (which some bodybuilders take illegally) can make acne worse.
It used to be thought that diets high in sugar and milk products made acne worse but research has failed to find evidence to support this.