What is acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that happens when hair follicles become clogged, this means that hair follicules under the skin become blocked by oil, bacteria, dead skin cells and dirt. When it occurs, it can cause whiteheads, blackheads or pimples. Most often the outbraks appear on the face but it can also happen on the back, chest and shoulders. Through this article you will understand everything you need to know about acne.

What are the different types of acne?

If you have acne you might notice different types of pimples or lesions. Doctors refer to enlarged or plugged hair follicles as comedones. The different types of acnes include:

  • Whiteheads or closed comedones : are formed as raised bumps under the surface of your skin. They produce a white bump.
  • Blackheads or open comedones : are open at the surface of your skin. The discolor of the sebum, not the dirt, give the blackheads that black color.

There are also inflammatory lesions which are more likely to cause scarring of your skin:

  • Papules : are small, red, raised bumps are caused by inflamed or infected hair follicles. They can be tender to touch.
  • Pustules : are solid, often painful and developed beneath the surface of your skin. They are topped by white or yellow pus-filled lesions that may be red at the base.
  • Nodules : are large and painful solid regions lodged deep within the skin.
  • Cysts or severe nodular acne : are large lumps beneath the skin containing pus and are usually deep and painful.

What are the symptoms of acne?

Acne can be found in most of your body but you will notice most of the breakouts on your face and neck, back, shoulders and chest. Moreover, pimples can have a rough and uneven texture over your skin.

IT can also depend on the type of skin you have. If you have acne, you can also experience :

  • swelling and inflamation
  • pain when you touch the pimples or when not touched
  • skin decoloration with dark patches or spots and redness

Popping pimples can raise your chances of scarring so avoid squeezing no matter how tempting it feels to get rid of the pimple immediately. Once a pimple develops, it can take from a few days to several weeks to completely clear up. An acne breakout can take a lot longer to heal and clear, especially without treatement.

What causes acne?

Doctors and researchers believe that one or more of the following can lead to the developement of acne:

  • Excess or high production of oil (sebum) in the pore
  • Buildup of dead skin cells in the pore
  • Growth of bacteria in the pore

However, there are some factors that may increase or worsen your risk of developing acne:

  • Hormones : An increase in androgens, which are male sex hormones, may lead to acne. These increase in both boys and girls normally during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Homone changes during midlife, particularly in women, can lead to breakouts too.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other endocrine conditions.
  • Medications : Certain medications, such as medications that contain hormones, corticosteroids and lithium can cause acne.
  • Diet : Studies indicate that consuming certain foods – including carbohydrate-rich foods and dairy products – may worsen acne. Further study is needed to examine wether people with acne would benefit from following specific dietary restrictions.
  • Stress : Stress does not cause acne but it can make it worse.
  • Family history : Researchers believe that you may be more likely to get acne if your parents had acne.

Furthermore, there are some factors that do not cause acne but can make it worse:

  • Pressure from tight clothes or backpacks.
  • Environmental irritants such as pollution and high humidity.
  • Scrubbing your skin to hard.
  • Poor sleep.
  • Beauty products such as cleansers, creams, moisturizers with high oil content.

You should note that you have the highest risk of developing acne during puberty. During this time, your body undergoes many hormonal changes. These changes can trigger oil production, leading to an increased risk of acne. Hormonal acne related to puberty usually improves when you reach adulthood and your breackouts may even stop completely.

Acne myths

There are some acne myths that you should know, have little effect on acne:

  • Chocolate and greasy food. They have little effect on acne if you don’t eat them regularly.
  • Hygiene. You should know that acne isn’t caused by dirty skin. Infact, scrubbing the skin too hard or cleansing with harsh soaps or chemicals irritates the skin and can make acne even worse.
  • Cosmetics. Cosmetics don’t necessarily worsen acne, especially if you use oil-free makeup that doesn’t clog pores (noncomedogenics) and remove makeup regularly. Nonoily cosmetics don’t interfere with the effectiveness of acne drugs.

The botton line

Acne can be tough but plenty of effective treatements can help ease breakouts and heal your skin.

If you continue to experience painful or persistent breakouts, a dermatologist can offer support with creating a treatement plan that works for your skin and reduces scarring.

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