Part One – Acne Defined
When most of us think of acne we think of adolescence. Acne has been becoming a more persistant adult problem. But teenagers do make up the largest percent of acne sufferers,. Acne probles are common in more tha a quarter of the male population and half of the female population. These figures seem to be climbing.
Acne is composed of skin blemishes which are associated with the accumulation of sebum in hair follicles, the tiny holes we commonly call pores. Sebum is produced by sebaceous glands deep within each pore and it can take two or three weeks before it reaches the skins surface. Sebum is the oil that keeps your skin moist and supple. As the skin regenerates itself, old cells die, mix with your skins natural oils and slough off.
Sometimes dead cells become sticky, clumping together and can plug the exits of pores. This traps oil and bacteria inside the pore which then swells as your skin continues its normal oil production and skin sloughing which can not escape. A bacteria infection can ensue and results in a skin blemish.
Types of Acne
There are basically two different categories of acne, non inflammatory and inflammatory.
Non Inflammatory Acne
A closed white head occurs when the plug in the pore remains unseen below the surface of the skin. These lesions commonly appear on the skin as small, whitish bumps.
An open whitehead or blackhead occurs when the plug enlarges and pushes through the surface of the skin. The plugs dark appearance is due to a buildup of melanin, the skin’s dark pigment, not dirt as commonly thought.
A papule is the mildest form of inflationary acne. It appears on the skin as firm, small pink bumps. These are usually tender to the touch, and are often considered an intermediary step between non-inflationary and inflationary acne.
Pustules are small lesions that are clearly inflamed and contain visible pus. They appear with a yellowish or whitish center and red around the base. The inflation is generally caused by chemical irritation from sebum components Such as free fatty acids and infection is almost always present.
Nodules or cysts are large, pus-filled, inflamed lesions lodged deep in the lower layers of the skin. They develop when a comedon has ruptured and its contents have leaked into the surrounding tissue below the surface of the skin (often the results of an unsuccessful squeeze). The most severe form of acne may persist for weeks or months with their contents hardening into a deep cyst. Both cysts and nodules can leave deep scares.
Acne conglobata is rare, but a serious form of inflammatory acne that primarily develops on the chest buttocks and back. In addition to nodules and pustules, there may be severe bacterial infection which can track latteraly through the layers of the skin and cause boils or furuncles.
Who Gets Acne? More than 90% of all adolescents are affected by acne, and nearly 50% of adults. It is one of the most wide spread medical conditions in the world.
Something To Help
Fortunately you do not have to live with acne. There is always something you can do to improve the health of your skin. Of course your doctor’s advice can be invaluable, but don’t forget to discuss the possible side effects that normally accompany the long term use of drugs. A naturalpathic doctor will give you other alternatives. There are many plants with anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties. And a third way to find solutions is to do a search on the internet. There are several direct sales companies with quality products promising to help acne problems.