What is Acne?
This is a skin condition which normally occurs when the hair follicles get plugged with dead skin cells, bacteria, and oil. Naturally, the skin has very tiny holes which are known as pores. When they are blocked by dirt, oil, dead cells or bacteria, one may develop a pimple. However, if the skin gets affected by zits or pimples repeatedly, then that might be acne.
Acne is among the most commonly experienced skin conditions but it isn’t life-threatening. However, they can be painful and tender to touch. In addition to that, it can also be very severe and the affected person may end up experiencing emotional distress. In case you have severe acne on your face, this may negatively impact your self-esteem.
What are the Main Causes of Acne?
Overall, most people usually experience acne when the skin pores get clogged. Note that each skin pore provides an opening to the hair follicle which also has the sebaceous gland. A clogged pore means that the oil gland will be inhibited from releasing sebum onto the skin (sebum makes the skin supple, soft and lubricated). Some of the factors that can make the skin pores to get clogged include:
- Excess production of sebum by the follicles
- Accumulation of dead skin cells in the pores
- Hormonal fluctuations
- A buildup of bacteria in the pores.
The Risk Factors of Acne
Apart from the above-mentioned causes, there are several risk factors of acne. Some of them can be controlled or prevented while others are uncontrollable. However, all these risk factors can be managed or controlled using self-care methods or prescription drugs. The most common types of acne risk factors are:
- Hormonal changes: it’s commonly experienced by females especially teens. Hormonal changes might also be caused certain drugs.
- Stress: it might worsen the symptoms of acne.
- Genetics: if your family has a history with acne, then you might also be at risk.
- Friction: when too much pressure or friction is applied to the skin, a person may end up with acne.
- Age: as much as acne can affect people of all age groups, it’s mainly common in teenagers. During puberty, the body usually undergoes a rapid hormonal change that can trigger excess production of oil.
- Diet: foods that are carbohydrates or refined sugars in high amounts may contribute to acne.
Types of Acne
Acne is categorized into two primary groups: inflammatory & noninflammatory. These two types of acne affect the skin differently. Furthermore, their severity is also different as well as the symptoms. The description below offers an overview of what makes them different.
It’s considered the least severe type of acne. Non-inflammatory acne is usually not painful. Additionally, it does not cause skin swellings. This type of acne appears in two forms, whiteheads and blackheads.
Medically, they are known as the closed comedones. They are usually small in size and they have whitish and sometimes flesh-colored bumps. Whiteheads are circular and they have a white center. However, this type of on-inflammatory ace does not result in scarring.
Clinically, blackheads are known as the open comedones. They have black and small spots which are slightly raised. The center of a blackhead is usually darker compared to the surrounding skin because of dirt. Note that blackheads are sometimes regarded as open and wide whiteheads.
Non-inflammatory Acne Treatment Options
Non-inflammatory Acne can be effectively treated using self-care techniques. The acne treatment options range from homemade products to prescribed drugs. They include:
- Over-the-counter drugs: for instance, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and sulfur.
- Gels and toners
In addition to these, a lifestyle change or home remedy may help to reduce the symptoms and effects of white and blackhead. You can do this by avoiding stress, washing the affected area with lukewarm water and mild soap, staying hydrated and eating well-balanced meals. Besides those, ensure that you avoid exposing your skin to strong sun rays. Avoid over-washing the skin and always wear sunscreen when you are outdoors during the day. Avoid popping or picking the whiteheads and blackheads as this could result in scars, pitting and dark spots.
This is usually a severe type of acne and it normally results in pitting or scarring. Inflammatory acne is lesions which are swollen, inflamed and red in color. Furthermore, they are usually tender to touch. Inflammatory types of acne are pustules, nodules, papules, and cysts.
Minor or mild Inflammatory Acne
These are small bumps that are found under the surface of the skin. Papules are usually pink in color. In addition to that, they are usually solid and raised above the skin surface. This acne is tender and makes the surrounding skin red and swollen.
These are pimples that have a circular center that’s well-defined. Pustules are tender, bigger and filled with pus. They are more inflamed and larger than whiteheads.
Treatment and Remedies
These are mild types of inflammatory acne and they can be treated using self-care techniques or OTC drugs. Some of their treatment options include:
- Using warm water and soap to wash the affected area twice daily.
- Using OTC drugs such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide
- Warm compressing the affected area for a couple of minutes.
Moderate-Severe Inflammatory Acne
Nodules acne are painful and hard inflamed bumps found deep under the ski. This type of inflammatory acne doesn’t have a visible head and it appears a deeper and larger version of papules. A server nodule can cause scarring, dark spots or acne blemish.
This is a severe type of inflammatory acne. Cystic acne is soft, large and very painful. Because the lumps are usually located deep underneath the skin and filled with pus, cystic acne can result in serious complications like scarring.
This type of acne is caused by changes in hormone levels. Note that hormonal acne normally occurs during puberty as the body changes. Hormonal acne can be mild or severe and cause blemishes.
Moderate or severe acne can’t be effectively treated from home. These lesions are usually dangerous and need the services of a dermatologist. They can be treated using Hormonal contraceptives for hormonal acne, Antibiotics like amoxicillin, doxycycline, and tetracycline, Chemical peels, Retinoids like isotretinoin, Photodynamic therapy, Steroid injections, Extraction or drainage as in cystic acne among others.
What are the Symptoms of Acne?
The symptoms and signs of acne depend on the type of acne. In addition to that, the severity of the acne also influences the symptoms. Different people usually experienced different types of acne but hormonal acne is usually common in teenagers. The most common symptoms of acne include:
- Small pimples which are filled with pus at the tips and red in color i.e. pustules.
- Large, painful lumps beneath the skin that contain pus i.e. cystic acne.
- Hard and painful bumps beneath the skin i.e. nodules
- Small, raised bumps that are red in color i.e. papules.
When to Seek Acne Treatment
Acne should be treated from the on-set. This helps to effectively limit its spread and makes the treatment process faster and easier. A mild type of acne can be treated using home remedies and OTC drugs for four to eight weeks. However, a severe type of acne needs immediate medical attention. If the cane is causing you emotional distress, has pus, bleeds a lot, painful and covers a big portion of your body or face, seek medical attention as soon as you can.
How Acne Can Be Prevented
Acne can be managed successfully and also prevented. There are various home remedies which can be used to prevent acne and they include:
- Avoiding oily makeups
- Washing the affected area twice daily with a mild cleanser.
- Removing makeup and washing your face before bed.
- Avoid clothes that are tight.
- Ensure that you shower after exercising.
- Eat healthy and well-balanced meals with less refined sugars.
- Avoiding stress.
If you already have acne, you can effectively reduce its severity by:
- Regularly shampooing the hair and keeping it away from your face.
- Using non-comedogenic makeup or water-based makeup to prevent clogging of the pores.
- Avoid picking or popping the pimples as this promotes the spread of bacteria on the skin.
- Void touching the affected area with dirty hands.
- Sleeping on clean bed sheets and pillow. Ensure that you change your pillow covers and bed sheets every other day. This helps to prevent dirt from clogging in your skin pores.
Acne is a condition that can be managed and also treated. Hormonal acne, for instance, can be treated using hormonal contraceptives which cystic acne can be drained. Papules and pustules are usually mild and they can be treated using home remedies such as aloe Vera juice, green tea among others. Additionally, lifestyle change is vital for acne treatment. Ensure that you get enough sleep, avoid sugary foods and drink lots of water. Acne is a condition that requires a lot of care as well as patience. While you are under treatment, ensure that you use the remedies consistently in order to attain the best results.