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The Scoop on Acne: Causes, Types and Treatment

Acne is a skin condition characterized by red, irritating lesions. Affecting mostly young adolescents going through puberty, this condition is associated with psychological issue related to body image. It can lead to social withdrawal and depression if left untreated. Acne is not the result of poor hygiene or diet.

The Scoop on Acne

Causes of Acne

There are numerous factors that contribute to the development of acne. The main problem involves cells inside the hair follicles that form a plug or blackhead, which is called a comedo. This plug affects normal movement of sebum (oil), skin cells, and hair, causing an enlarged or ruptured hair follicle. When the hair follicle opens up, oil and debris deposit onto the skin, leading to redness, inflammation, and swelling.

Propionibacterium acnes is a type of bacteria that lives on our skin. When these bacteria produce enzymes, they dissolve the sebum into irritating substances, which worsens the skin inflammation. Also, androgens worsen acne because these male hormones enlarge the sebaceous glands and increase oil production. These actions exacerbate the comedo formation and serve as a nutrition source for the bacteria of the skin. During puberty, there is a surge of androgens in the body.

Acne Risk Factors

There are several groups of people who are more prone to acne than others. These include:

Teens and young adults : Hormonal changes that occur during puberty can provoke or aggravate acne.

Sex : Females are more prone to acne, particularly two to seven days prior to menses (the period).

Pregnant women : Many pregnant women develop acne due to hormonal surges in the body.

Certain medications : People taking certain medications are at an increased risk for acne, particularly those on corticosteroids, lithium, or androgens.

Family history of acne : Anyone who has a family member who has or had acne.

Types of Acne Skin Lesions

There are two primary types of acne lesions: inflammatory and noninflammatory. The inflammatory lesions are acne lesions that consist of red blemishes, which are also called pimples and zits, and large lesions, which are called nodules or cysts. Papules are closed comedones that are red and inflamed, whereas pustules are closed comedones that form a pustular head. Nodules are large, tender, swollen cysts that often rupture under the skin. Noninflammatory acne lesions are closed comedones (whiteheads) and open comedones (blackheads). These occur from dilation of the plug formed in the hair follicle.

Treatment of Acne

The diagnosis of acne is made based on clinical inspection of the lesions and blemishes. The doctor will take a detailed history and conduct a comprehensive medical examination. Therapies include:

Home Care to Get Rid of Acne

Wash face twice daily with antibacterial soap and water. Avoid using abrasive scrubs or rough cloths, as this irritates the skin and worsens the condition.

Avoid makeup and cosmetics with oil if possible. Choose products that are labeled benoncomedogenic.

Avoid pinching, squeezing, or manipulating lesions, as this only produces scars and worsens the condition.

Avoid touching the face or resting objects against the face, such as telephone receivers.

Do not wear tight clothing or hats, especially if you are engaging in physical activity.

Prescription Medications

Benzoyl peroxide : This medicine kills P. acnes bacteria and causes the skin to dry and flake away. This keeps pores from becoming plugged, Among the most famous of these medicines is product clear proof mary kay .

Azalaic acid products : These solutions are used for mild acne. They help with premature skin shedding to keep pores from plugging.

Antibiotics : To reduce bacteria on the skin, antibiotics are often prescribed. They can be topical or pill form.

Retinoids : These drugs are similar in structure to vitamin A. Topical retinoids open clogged pores, produce a peeling effect, and are used for mild to moderate cases of acne. Severe acne is treated with oral retinoid, such as isotretinoin. This medication produces drastic peeling and drying of the skin and is often a permanent cure for acne. 

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