What is acne?
Acne is a common skin disorder that offers tremendous psychological distress. Acne sufferers and those who suffer from a condition that dermatologists call RETENTION KERATOSIS, have over active sebaceous glands which cause the skin to clog with dead cells on the surface and this in turn results in bacteria breeding.
Dead skin cells are constantly being shed from the epidermis. Sometimes, and especially in an oily skin, these cells are not sloughed away and so can build up, eventually falling back into the openings of the pores, and as a result the pore is blocked.
Fresh air can not get down into the follicle to deliver detoxifying oxygen. The consequence is a plugged pore with a moist warm environment. This is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. As the bacteria gathers and multiplies, it swells in the follicle, and inflammation occurs. Both whiteheads and blackheads start out as a “microcomedone”. These become either a whitehead or a blackhead or eventually a pustule spot.
It relates to the pathogenic factors that should be addressed to formulate a treatment plan for the disorder. You will be treating inflammation, hyperactive proliferation, excess sebum, and P acnes. It depends on how serious the condition as to the type of treatment you will need. In some cases, a topical or systemic antibiotic needs to be used and if it is necessary benzoyl peroxide to reduces the emergence of resistance.
As hard as it is to deal with, it is important to know that you are not alone. Treatment may seem miles away, but every journey has its beginning. It is understandable that patience is incredibly difficult when your troubles are written across your face. However, tedious and time-consuming as it may be, your skin will see its best days if you persevere on your path to a clear complexion.
Who gets acne?
People of all races and ages get this annoying skin condition. It is most common in adolescents and young adults. An estimated 80 percent of all people between the ages of 11 and 30 have acne outbreaks at some point.
For most people, it tends to go away by the time they reach their thirties; however, some people in their forties and fifties continue to have this skin problem.
Forms of Acne
Acne comes in different forms and is normally identified by its size and severity, and afflicts people of all ages. Usually, severe forms develop from milder forms; while others may develop independently.
Forms when the hair follicle (pore) on the skin gets clogged by an overproduction of sebum (a natural oil produced by the skin), dead cells and become infected by bacteria. This leads to inflammation (swelling, redness and pain) at the point of infection.
The beginning of it is the smallest type of lesion, called a microcomedo. Depending on the growth of this microcomedo, it may develop in to an open comedo or closed comedo.
Before you can attempt to get rid of your pimples with the various acne treatments available, you should know what type of acne you are up against. Here is an overview of the various types:
Acne Vulgaris – this is the most common form, which comprises of both blackheads (open comedo) and whiteheads (closed comedo). This form of acne is the easiest form of acne to treat
Blackheads – Blackheads develop when pores become partially blocked with dead skin cells, bacteria and sebum. The black color of this pimple is not caused by dirt, but form when the exposed skin pigments reacts with oxygen in the air. Blackheads can be difficult to treat.
Whiteheads – Whiteheads are the products of completely blocked pores. The pore fills with bacteria, oils and dead skin cells, and this mixture appears white just under the skin. Whiteheads tend to easier to treat than blackheads.
Papules – Papules are blocked pores that are infected and inflamed. They appear as red bumps on the surface of the skin. These pimples should never be squeezed, as this will spread the infection to surrounding areas, hinder healing and lead to scarring.
Pustules – Pustules look like whiteheads, except these pimples are inflamed, red in appearance and with a white or yellow center because of pus. Most what is commonly called pimples or zits, tend to be pustules.
Nodules – Nodules, or cysts, are severe forms of acne that are pus-filled, sac-like formations under the skin’s surface. This type of acne takes a long time to get rid of. Nodules should never be squeezed. Squeezing will spread the infection to other tissues around the primary infection site and make healing more difficult. Nodules are very painful and the scarring is more common and much worst than those caused by other forms.
Cystic Acne – Cystic acne is one of the most sever forms. Cystic acne often comes about because of squeezing of small pus-filled acne. This causes the pus to travel deep into the skin tissue. These inflamed soft pus filled skin bumps are large, painful and difficult to treat. Cystic acne can affect both the face and other area of the body.
Acne Rosacea – Acne Rosacea, or more accurately called rosacea, is a chronic skin condition that looks like a red rash. It affects mostly middle-aged adults with fair skin. Pimples often accompany the rash, which is typically limited to the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. The cause of rosacea is unknown, but genetics may be a contributing factor. Severe, untreated rosacea can result in disfiguring scars.
Acne Conglobata – Acne Conglobata is an extremely severe form of cystic acne, generally affecting males between the ages of 18 and 30. This form is distinguished by deep, inflammatory nodules that connect under the skin to other nodules, combined with many large blackheads. These pimples can last for years and cause great scarring, and is difficult to treat.
Mild acne is often responsive to home treatment, but if you have severe forms you should consult a dermatologist or health professional to help you make a decision on the best treatments for your type.
Types of acne
Acne can mar beautiful and otherwise healthy looking skin to a very great extent, especially when allowed to progress.
Several pimples and spots can occur at the same time or just a few, and depending on these, this skin condition can be graded as –
– Grade 1 – which usually involves blackheads
– Grade 2 – involving mostly whiteheads, but blackheads may also accompany them
– Grade 3 – pus filled pimple-like skin elevations
– Grade 4 – this is considered to be severe most form of acne involving small knobby but closed pus-filled skin sacs that are usually inflamed and painful
This is more commonly noticed during adolescence, appearing mostly around the forehead, and sometimes on the nose as well. Small whiteheads may also be noted around the chin area at times. However, adults too have noticed sudden development of a mild form later in life.
The first sign of skin disturbances leading to acne development will become visible, like greasy oily-looking skin, open blackheads, often several of them occurring at the same time. There is no skin inflammation usually seen at this stage, though.
Mild or grade 1 acne is at a stage that is fairly easy to treat. Over-the-counter topical agents and good hygiene is sufficient to bring the condition under good control. It will probably take about a month’s time to notice any improvement in the condition, but when treatment is started, it will prevent acne progression.
As it suggests, this will be slightly of a higher rank than the mild form of acne. The blackheads and whiteheads will usually be more widespread rather than confined to one small area. The spots will be of a slightly larger size because of pus formation, and mild inflammation may also be noted at this stage. In women, the breakouts usually coincide with their menstrual cycles, either pre-menstrual or during menstruation.
Moderate or grade 2 acne will usually require a combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide creams to kill the bacteria and to cast off the top surface of skin, layer by layer, so as to get rid of the pimples. Again good hygiene, like washing the area regularly to remove excess sebum, and avoidance of frequent picking or squeezing the comedones out will have to be followed.
The intensity of skin inflammation and the number of spots will be extensively large compared to grade 1 and 2, at this stage, which is considered to be rather severe. The pimple-like skin elevations, usually pus filled and angry looking will be more in number, and seen in other places as well, like the chest and upper back regions.
At this stage, your skin should be treated to prevent its progression to a more severe or grade 4 form, which is usually slow in responding to any kind of treatment. Along with topical creams, oral medicines will also be prescribed to control growths. Skin exfoliating agents will also be put to use to prevent scarring that could possibly be left behind by the acne formation.
Grade 4 Acne
At this stage, breakouts will be severe. It will present itself as large cysts, nodular looking, with a greater degree of skin inflammation seen.
Along with topical and oral agents, light therapy will also have to be followed to control further acne breakouts. This is however, considered to be the rarest form of acne, for usually by the third stage of development, individuals would have approached medical professionals for help.
Prevent the progress of acne development by seeking medical treatment as early as possible, even though this is not considered to be a harmful skin condition. Click here to start an online consult with a dermatologist.