What is Acne?
Acne is chronic inflammation of the hair follicles present in the skin. It is also known as Acne Vulgaris or Common Acne. Most people commonly refer to acne as pimples, and it is a condition that affects the hair follicles of the face, neck, shoulders, back, chest and upper arms.
Acne usually occurs as a young person enters their puberty stage. At this stage of early adolescence, the oil-producing sebaceous glands in skin become overly active, and their increased oil production leads to the hair follicles becoming clogged and acne occurring as a result.
Acne is not a condition that should be cause for serious health concerns, but severe cases may leave scars on the skin. Unlike many inflammations, bacteria do not cause acne by themselves, but they do play a part in its development.
Acne treatment will always depend on the severity and persistence of the condition.
Types of Acne?
Acne may be of different types depending on the size, color, and intensity of pain associated with the lesion. The following types of acne are common when appearing on the skin:
- Whiteheads: They are small in size and remain under the skin.
- Blackheads: They appear black and are clearly seen on the surface of the skin.
- Comedones: The clogged pore of a hair follicle that may appear as a whitehead or a blackhead.
- Papules: These are small, pink lesions seen on the surface of the skin.
- Pustules: These are inflammatory lesions with a red base and pus in the center. They can be clearly seen on the surface of the skin.
- Nobules: They are large, noticeable, solid and painful and deeply rooted into the skin.
- Cysts: They are visibly evident, and present on the surface of the skin. These lesions usually contain pus and are painful. Cysts are the type of acne most likely to lead to scarring.
What causes Acne?
No one cause is responsible for acne. It has been determined that acne occurs when the oil-producing sebaceous glands attached to the base of the hair follicles become stimulated. This most commonly occurs at the time of puberty or when a person experiences other hormonal changes.
Sebum, the clinical name for the oil produced in the skin, blocks the pores of the follicles due to being overproduced. In normal circumstances, sebum serves a beneficial function to protect and lubricate the skin. When produced in overabundant volume however, it plugs the follicles and leads to acne.
- A whitehead is produced if the plug is covered by a thin layer of skin.
- A blackhead is produced the plug is exposed to air.
- Pustules, nobules, and cysts are formed as the inflammation moves deeper into the skin surface.
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to the causes of acne:
- Food: Diet plays no role in acne, and that includes greasy or fatty foods.
- Dirt: Sweat and dirt do not cause acne.
- Stress: Being chronically stressed does not cause acne.
Causes that DO contribute to acne are:
- Hereditary: You can inherit a predisposition to developing acne from your parents.
- Hormonal: Hormonal fluctuations in the levels of androgen, especially during puberty, cause the growth of sebaceous glands in the skin. These enlarged glands produce more sebum, resulting in clogging of the pores. Resulting breakdown of the walls of the pores can lead to secondary bacterial infection.
- Bacteria: They play a secondary role in causing inflammation of the blocked pores of the hair follicles, resulting in acne.
Studies have strongly indicated that certain potential triggers can promote the development of acne.
- Greasy cosmetics
- Certain medicines with ingredients including androgen and lithium
- Hormonal changes (related to puberty and other conditions)
- Emotional stress can be a factor in some rare cases
Signs and Symptoms?
These signs and symptoms will depend upon grades of severity and are classified as follows;
- Mild in severity.
- Visible inflammation is typically not seen.
- Form as whiteheads, blackheads and small pimples.
- Mostly occurring on nose and forehead.
- Moderate in severity.
- Occurring as a breakout of comedones on the skin.
- Pustules and papules may also be present.
- Severe inflammation.
- A large number of pustules, papules, and nodules are seen on the skin.
- This is the severest form of acne.
- Severe inflammation.
- Skin is covered with papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.
- The spread of acne is not limited to the face.
- Neck, chest, back, and buttocks show spread of acne in breakouts.
- Scar formation and skin disfigurement are possibilities.
Acne Rosacea is an acne-like, auto-inflammatory skin condition that affects adults. It characteristically involves the central facial area -forehead, cheeks, chin and lower half of the nose. It is a non-contagious condition. Blackheads are not seen in rosacea lesions, and the exact cause of Acne Rosacea is unknown. It comes and goes with time. If left untreated, symptoms can become more pronounced with age.
- Spicy food
- Hot liquids
- Emotional stress
- Irritating cosmetics
Signs and Symptoms
- Redness of face
- Tiny red pimples
- Thread-like red vascular lines
- Small cysts
- Eye problems
- Thickening of facial tissue and a bulbous nose
- Since there are many similarities between acne and rosacea, treatment of both is nearly the same. The same OTC (over-the-counter) drugs along with more potent medications have to be combined to manage rosacea.
Proper care of the skin along with proper acne treatment is the plainest answer for those asking how they can get rid of acne. As is the case with any physical condition or ailment, treatment type and duration will depend upon the severity of the condition.
Mild acne is usually treatable with OTC drugs. These drugs include gels, soaps, pads, creams, and lotions, which may be applied to the affected skin. Active ingredients in these drugs include:
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Salicylic acid
- Azelaic acid
Moderate to Severe Acne
Progressive cases of acne require a consultation with a dermatologist. OTC medications prescribed may not be strong enough to treat resistant cases, and in these instances more potent medications can be combined with OTC drugs. These include;
- Corticosteroid injection
- Oral antibiotics
- Oral contraceptives
- Topical antimicrobials
When searching for an effective acne treatment, choose a pharmacy with a knowledgeable staff you can trust to ensure your acne medication will work for you.
- MedicineNet.com – Rosacea
- Medical News Today – What you need to know about acne