What is Acne? – An Overview

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For teenagers, waking up with zits all over their face is worse than a nightmare. No doubt, acne is a sure fire way to hurt anyone’s self-esteem during these developing years.

 

Surprisingly, adults are no exception.

 

Just when you thought you have all the answers to the question “what is acne?”, you find yourself once again dealing with a skin issue that affects 60 million Americans today.

 

So what is it about acne that it not only affects teens but adults as well?

 

What is Acne – The “Oily” Truth

Acne, also known medically as acne vulgaris, is a chronic inflammation of the skin. Although it’s not life-threatening, acne affects a person in more ways than one. The infection starts when the hair follicle containing the sebaceous (oil) gland is blocked by a plug made from a combination of oil and dead skin cells.

 

Once the pore has been blocked, bacteria will then take it as a cue to start invading the hair follicles. The wall surrounding the follicle will then rupture and infection follows afterwards. Depending on its severity, acne may appear in the form of whiteheads, blackheads, nodules or cysts.

 

Contrary to popular belief, acne is not mainly due to bacterial invasion. In fact, a study spearheaded by the Washington University School of Medicine reveals that there are two types of bacteria that are usually present in the skin. One strain is obviously detrimental to the skin while the other surprisingly provides the benefits of a pimple-free skin.

 

Acne: Who is at risk?

Teenage life won’t be complete without the nasty aftermath of facial acne.  But that doesn’t mean everyone becomes immune to it once we get older. The truth, according to Brown University (USA), is that approximately 17 million of Americans will suffer from acne at least once in their lives. From toddlers and infants to teenagers and twenty-something professionals, we are all at risk to get acne every once in a while.

 

Teenagers get acne due to a surge in androgen hormones (i.e. testosterone) come puberty stage. Testosterone has the ability to stimulate the sebaceous gland to release more oil, hence increasing the chance of teens to get acne breakouts. Compared to girls, guys are more prone to experience severe flare outs as they have higher levels of testosterone in the body.

 

Adults, on the other hand, usually get acne either from stress or oil-based cosmetic products. The age of sufferers may range from early 20’s up to 50’s with most acne cases concentrated on specific areas of the body including the back, neck, chest, and even genitals

 

Acne Treatment

Acne can be managed by simple home remedies or basic skin care procedures. That is, if you are suffering from mild cases of acne. Professional consultation with your dermatologists will be required if your acne is severe and needs close medical attention.

 

Some of the over-the-counter drugs available to combat acne are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Specialists can also prescribe anti-acne medications that contain active ingredients like adabalene and azelaic acid. Please be reminded that some acne are hormonal in nature and may need the assistance of other prescription drugs in order to produce the desired results.
Here’s an infographic summarizing all the basic information you need to know about acne:

 

Featured image courtesy of http://www.howtoremoveacne.in