Acne is the most common skin condition out there. No matter your age or race, everyone has dealt with it at some point. For many people this embarrassing condition appears around the time they hit puberty. While dealing with acne can be a short-lived experience for many in their youth, some people struggle with keeping their skin clear for much of their life. In order to best treat and minimize acne, it helps to understand all the basics about this common skin condition. Read on to learn how you can avoid some of the more common pitfalls, while doing the best job possible at keeping ahead of blemishes.
What Exactly is Acne?
It’s estimated that acne outbreaks affect as much as 80 percent of all people between the ages of 11 and 30 — making it a serious health issue for many people. While not dangerous, acne outbreaks can leave scars and other skin imperfections. Pimples caused by acne are most commonly found on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. However, they can appear just about anywhere on the body.
Acne affects the skin’s oil glands which are linked to pores in your skin. These pores are connected to glands by canals known as follicles, through which dead skin cells are carried to the surface of your skin. Hair also grows through these skin follicles, but when the skin follicles become clogged that is when acne develops.
There are several kinds of acne bacteria; the most common goes by the scientific name of propionibacterium acnes, and it lives on the skin — contributing to chronic and inflammatory conditions. Not all acne bacteria that people are susceptible to results in embarrassing pimples, however. Being able to identify which type of acne bacteria you are most likely to get can help with treatments, as well as preventative measures.
When you think of acne, you might not realize there are many different forms of the condition that people deal with. While most people have experienced skin blemishes of some sort, not everyone suffers from the same types. Acne pimples come in varying sizes and colors, and they also cause different levels of pain to those who have them. Typically, the type of pimples that people deal with include:
- Whiteheads – pimples that are small and under the skin
- Blackheads – clearly visible blemishes that are black and appear on the skin’s surface
- Papules – small bumps that are typically pink in color and are visible on the surface of the skin
- Pustules – pimples that are clearly visible on the surface of the skin which are red at their base and have white pus at the top
- Nobules – large, solid, and painful pimples that are embedded deep in the skin but are still clearly visible on the surface
- Cysts – painful and pus filled blemishes that are clearly visible on the surface of the skin and will cause scars if not properly treated
Not everyone will deal with all of these types at the same time or even at some point in their life, but it is common to experience at least a couple varieties. Knowing the different types and how to spot them can help you when developing treatment options with your doctor.
What are Some Common Causes of Acne?
Part of the reason acne is so hard for people to avoid is that there isn’t a single or exact cause. Doctors who focus on treating acne believe the condition results from a mix of related factors. A major contributor to the development of acne is an increase in androgen hormones, so some people are more prone to develop acne during puberty, but it can also occur later in life due to hormonal changes from pregnancy, medical conditions, or even from certain kinds of medications. Genetics also play a big role in the development of acne. People who frequently have acne may have inherited the disorder from their parents.
Another major factor that results in acne is oily skin. Oils from sebaceous glands – or sebum – can block pores and result in pimples. Other debris like dead skin cells can block pores and create pimples too. This is why many people recommend cleaning your face and skin frequently to prevent build ups that result in acne.
If you are constantly dealing with acne breakouts it’s helpful to visit a dermatologist – or a doctor who specializes in treating skin problems. It is particularly recommended that you visit one of these physicians if you have a severe case of acne. Dermatologists can offer a range of popular treatment options depending on the specific type of acne you are suffering from.
Drugs treatments for acne often focus on reducing problems that contribute to acne including abnormal clumping of cells in the follicles, increased oil production, bacteria, and inflammation. For milder cases, over the counter treatments are usually the best. These treatments include topical and oral medications. In-office injections of corticosteroids may also be used in combination with with other treatment options to help reduce the size and pain of acne caused by inflamed cysts and nodules.
When it comes to treating acne scars, there are minor medical or surgical procedures that may be recommended. Dermabrasion (or microdermabrasion) where scars are “sanded down” is a popular treatment for acne scars. Other options that doctors may suggest include using a superficial laser or injections of synthetic filling materials under scars to improve their appearance.
Part of treating acne involves separating truth from myth about the condition. Especially about the causes of acne. Eating greasy foods or even chocolate are commonly blamed for the development of acne, but there is little evidence that foods of any kind are a contributing factor. Having dirty skin is also a common myth as people believe outside contaminants can contribute to the appearance of blackheads. Stress also does not cause people to have acne, although there is research that suggests stress can actually worsen acne that you may already have.
Another common myth that many people hear is that acne is something that only teenagers and young adults struggle with. This is hardly the case. Because of this misconception adults who do develop the condition can feel even more self conscious. Since there are many causes of acne, it can actually be a chronic issue that people deal with for most of their adult life.
The appearance of acne and other skin blemishes can be very embarrassing for people — especially those who believe they have left the troubles of pimples behind them, but it’s important to remember how widespread and chronic this condition can be, even later in life.
Treating acne does not have to be expensive or intimidating. There are several varieties of natural skin care products and over the counter medications that are available to help minimize this condition. Before you start treatment, it is helpful to speak with a dedicated dermatologist to identify which type of acne you are dealing with, so they can recommend the best treatment options and dispel any myths you may have heard to put your mind at ease.
Tanya Kuznetsov is a beauty adviser and a health and fitness adviser. She also does consultancy work for various beauty and fitness companies that aim to expand their lines of business. Tanya loves to do gardening and and go hiking on trails on her free time.