What cause acne?
Acne is a condition which develops in and around the hair follicles and their oil-producing glands called the sebaceous glands. Although we have these glands all over the surface of the bodies, it is only on the face, chest and back that acne develops. The oil produced by sebaceous glands is called sebum and it begins to appear soon after puberty. Acne usually starts during the teenage years but it may also begin in the twenties or thirties.
The exact cause of acne is unknown. One theory is that when hormone levels increase during puberty, the skin of the acne prone person reacts to the hormone to produce excess sebum. No one knows why some people's oil glands produce more sebum than others, but when this happens, the oil glands become blocked. One reason is the familiar blackheads or if the blockages are deeper, whiteheads. In some people, the acne may not progress beyond this stage, but usually it does.
Bacteria in the deeper part of the hair follicle, beneath the sebum blockage release chemicals which act upon the sebum and break it down to release other chemicals. These chemicals make the skin around the follicle red and inflamed resulting in a spot or papule. In bad cases, pus develops and the spot is called a pustule. Large painful swelling called nodules and cysts may develop and could result in scarring-sunken pits or hard swelling-after the condition has eventually settled.
What should I do when I have acne?
Consult your doctor early. Waiting to 'outgrow' acne can be a serious mistake, since medical treatment can improve your skin appearance and prevent the development of severe scars.
How is acne treated?
- Treatment applied to the skin
Patients with mild acne usually respond well to such treatment. It includes sulphur and resorcinol preparations (e.g. acne cream and lotion), benzoyl peroxide containing preparations, antibiotic lotion (erythromycin and clindamycin lotions) and vitamin A derived cream or gel (known as tretinoin).Some lotions or creams may make the skin red or flaky but this effect is usually temporary. Consult your doctor if the lotions or creams cause excessive redness or irritation.
- Oral treatment
If your acne becomes worse and you have a lot of tender spots, then skin treatment alone will not be enough. Your doctor will probably prescribe antibiotic tablets. Such as tetracycline, erythromycin, minocycline and doxycycline.
Whichever antibiotic you are prescribed, you will probably have to take it for at least a few months.
- For severe acne
For very serious cases who do not respond to the above treatment or severe cystic acne, a tablet called isotretinoin may be given. This medications may give rise to side effects, the most serious being damage to the unborn baby if taken during pregnancy.
Does diet cause or aggravate acne?
There is no firm scientific evidence that diet in any way influences acne. In the majority of cases, no dietary restrictions are required.
Treatment of ACNE and ACNE Scars
How should I wash my face?
Remove surface oil from the face by washing with soap and water or with medicated cleansers. There is no need to use special soaps. Ordinary toilet soaps will do. Remember, you can't wash acne away.
Does squeezing the spots affect the outcome?
It is advisable usually not to squeeze the spots, especially if they are deep. Superficial yellow spots may be gently squeezed to remove the pussy contents. If excessive pressure is required to remove the contents, the spot should not be squeezed, otherwise the irritant material will be squeezed further into the surrounding skin and produce a spot which will be bigger, last longer and may result in scarring.
Can I use cosmetics when I have acne?
It is possible that very greasy make-up might worsen acne. Use water-based oil-free cosmetics that do not promote the formation of black heads or white heads. Ask for assistance when you are selecting cosmetics.