Acne (pimples) is a very common skin problem that affects teenagers and young adults very often. A better understanding about this skin condition can help you deal with this skin problem better. Here is what you should know about acne:
A . WHAT IS ACNE?
Acne also called pimples is a common skin disease that involves the oil glands of the skin.The oil glands in your skin produce an oily substance known as sebum. The skin pores are connected to the oil glands by small tunnels called follicles. It is through these follicles that the sebum carries dead skin cells to the surface through skin pores. When the follicle of a skin gland clogs up, a pimple grows.
B . WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ACNE?
Acne can present in many forms. The most common ones include:
-Whiteheads. These are pimples that are formed under the surface of the skin.
-Blackheads. These are pimples that erupt on to the surface of skin and are black in color.
-Papules. These are small painful bump like eruptions on the skin.
-Pustules. These pimples have pus collected in them and are red in color.
-Nodules. These are large, painful, solid pimples that are deep in the skin.
-Cysts. These deep, painful, pus-filled pimples can cause scars.
C . WHO IS MORE PRONE TO GET ACNE?
Acne can affect people of all age groups but is most common in teenagers and young adults. Over 80% of people with acne are in the age group of 11-30 years. Some people in their forties and fifties still get acne.Teenage acne can last for upto 10 years, generally resolving in early 20’s. Teenage acne occurs in both sexes but is generally more severe in teenage boys. Women are more likely than men to have mild to moderate forms into their 30’s and beyond.
D . WHAT CAUSES ACNE?
The exact cause of acne is not known. Experts suggest that there maybe multiple factors that contribute to acne. These include
-Hormonal Changes: During puberty, both boys and girls produce high levels of androgens, the male sex hormones that include testosterone. Testosterone signals the body to make more sebum.
-Bacterial Browth: Excess sebum clogs the openings to hair. Bacteria grow in these clogged follicles. This makes blackheads or whiteheads and even pustules and papules
– Birth control pills: Starting or stopping birth control pills can trigger acne
E . WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR ACNE?
Treatment of acne is aimed at controlling the acne, preventing skin from further damage and making scars less noticeable. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor can suggest topic, oral or other forms of treatment.
1 . Topical Medications
In addition to over the counter medicines that are used to treat acne, doctor can prescribe the following medicines:
-Retinoids: Retinoids are derived from Vitamin A are applied at bedtime. They prevent plugging of hair follicles.
-Antibiotics: These work by killing excess skin bacteria and reducing redness.
-Dapsone: This gel is most effective when combined with a topical retinoid.
2 . Oral Medications
These are added in people who do not respond to topical medicines or who have recurrent episodes of acne.These include:
-Antibiotics: These are added to the treatment in people with moderate to severe acne. They include include tetracyclines, such as minocycline and doxycycline.
-Combined Oral Contraceptives: Combined oral contraceptives are useful in treating acne in women and adolescent girls.).
-Isotretinoin: This medicine is given to people with most severe form of acne. This needs close monitoring by the doctor due to its potential side effects.
3 . Therapies
There are various therapies that are prescribed by doctors either alone or along with medicines. These include Light therapy, Chemical peels, extraction of whiteheads and blackheads and steroid injections.
F . IS THERE ANY TREATMENT FOR ACNE SCARS?
There are many dermatological procedures that can help diminish the appearance of scars. These include
-Soft tissue fillers:This procedure involves Injecting soft tissue fillers like collagen or fat, under the skin and into indented scars to fill them up, thereby making them less noticeable.
-Chemical peels: These are highly potent acidic chemicals applied by skin experts to remove the top damaged layer of skin and deeper scars.
Dermabrasion: This procedure is usually reserved for more severe scarring. It involves sanding the surface layer of skin with a rotating brush.
Laser resurfacing: This procedure uses a laser to resurface the skin and therefore improve the overall skin appearance
G . WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD PEOPLE WITH ACNE TAKE?
Here are some ways to care for skin if you have acne:
–Be gentle with your skin.Use a mild cleanser in the morning and evening. Avoid scrubbing your skin as it can make your acne worse.
–Avoid certain products, such as facial scrubs, astringents and masks, because they tend to irritate skin, which can worsen acne. Excessive washing and scrubbing also can irritate skin.
–Refrain from touching your skin too often.People who squeeze, pinch, or pick their pimples can get scars or dark spots on their skin.
–Shave carefully: Make it a point to soften your beard with some soap and water before applying your shaving cream. Shave lightly and only when you have to.
–Avoid over exposure to sun:Many acne medications can make your skin prone to sunburn.
-Choose your makeup carefully:Use oil free makeup.Look for the word “non-comedogenic” on the label. This means that the makeup will not clog up your pores.
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So, if you have acne that does not respond to over the counter medicines and is persistent in nature, you should consult a dermatologist for optimal treatment and care.