The glands present in our body work as regulatory organs taking care of our bodily functions and ensuring that all the mechanism moves smoothly. Any malfunction of even one of them can thus result into a major abnormality and even a disease. It is this malfunction of the glands that causes some of the major problems such as acne.
Acne is basically caused by over-activity and disorderly activity of the sebaceous glands present in our body. These glands are greater in number on the face. When they get overactive, they further give rise to the much-dreaded breakouts on the face which we commonly refer to as acne.
To understand how to prevent and cure acne, it is important to understand the types of acne and main causes of this skin problem.
Types of Acne
Acne is one of the most widespread skin problems and affect close to 80% of the total population. The research figures indicate that acne accounts for a whopping 70% of the total dermatologists visits at a given point of time.
However, this skin condition can exist in various levels of intensity and various forms depending on the causes and other related factors. For a better understanding, here is a list of various types of acne:
1. Acne vulgaris (Mild)
This is the most common form of acne and can present itself in various forms:
- Whiteheads: Whiteheads basically result when a pore is completely blocked, thus trapping the sebum (oil), bacteria and dead skin cells, causing a white spot to appear.
- Blackheads: These occur when the pore is only partially blocked, allowing some of the trapped sebum (oil), bacteria and dead skin cells to slowly drain to the surface. Contrary to the common belief, the black color is not caused by dirt but due to the reaction of melanin with oxygen present in the air.
- Papules: Papules are basically the inflamed, red and tender red bumps, without a head. They are best left untouched. If not, they may cause major scarring.
- Pustules: This looks quite similar to a whitehead but is quite inflamed and appears as a red circle with a white or yellow center.
2. Acne vulgaris (Severe)
Nodules and cysts as explained below basically characterize this type of acne:
- Nodules: Nodular acne basically comprises of acne spots which are much larger and can turn very painful. They look like large, hard bumps under the skin’s surface and often tend to cause scars.
- Cysts: An acne cyst can look quite like the nodule except for the fact that it is filled with pus and can be very painful. It is important not to squeeze out the cyst to avoid infection and scarring.
3. Acne rosacea
This form of acne usually affects individuals above the age of 30. It normally appears as a red-colored rash which is normally confined to the cheeks, nose, forehead and the chin.
Bumps, pimples and skin blemishes often accompany the redness while the blood vessels might also become more visible. Interestingly, though this form of acne is found less frequently among men, but when it does, men can suffer form a much more severe form of acne rosacea. In most severe cases, acne rosacea can cause swelling of the nose and also growth of excess tissue, a condition referred to as rhinophyma.
4. Severe forms of acne
The severe forms of acne listed below are quite rare but can be quite debilitating when they occur, especially for the psychological health of the person. These include:
- Acne Conglobata
- Acne Fulminans
- Gram-Negative Folliculitis
- Pyoderma Faciale
Causative Factors of Acne
There has been a vast amount of research trying to analyze the various causes of acne. Studies conducted over the decades have pointed out to a vast variety of reasons, ranging from environment, genes and diet to personal lifestyle.
For a basic understanding, the main causes of acne can be studied under two broad categories:
- Primary causes
- Dietary habits
1. Primary causes
The primary causes of acne can be listed under the following headings:
- Hormonal activity such as menstrual cycles, puberty
- Over activity of adrenal glands
- Hyperactive sebaceous glands
- Accumulation of dead skin cells
- Bacteria present in pores of the skin
- Excessive irritation or scratching
- Using anabolic steroids
- Using medicines containing halogens
2. Dietary habits
The most prominent items in this category which could probably cause acne include:
- Excessive carbohydrates
- Vitamin A & E
- Fatty and greasy foods
Treatment Methods of Acne
If you get up in the morning and are afraid of looking in the mirror because you do not want to discover yet another ugly mark on your face, there is some good news for you.
Here is what experts have to say: “The enormous facial disfigurement which is left in the wake of acne is only due to the fact that most of the victims believe that there in no cure for acne and that it is just a normal part of growing up. In reality, its not!”
Purpose of treatment
Before you try to analyze the various options of treatment available for acne, it is important that you remember that any treatment procedure for acne should be conducted with the following ten key objectives:
- Ensuring proper cleansing
- Curing and preventing blackheads
- Minimizing oiliness of the skin
- Closing the pores
- Curing existing eruptions
- Preventing further infection
- Discouraging wrinkling
- Offering protection against environmental pollution
- Providing a suitable medicated base to keep the skin moisturized
- Removal of scars
In the following section, you’ll find some of the main treatment methods and products used in curing acne.
1. Topical bactericidals
Mild to moderate acne often responds quite well to over-the-counter bactericidal products containing benzoyl peroxide. This particular chemical acts as a keratolytic dissolving the keratin that plugs the pores causing acne. In addition, it also prevents new lesions by killing the Propionibacterium acnes. Ideally, the treatment of acne should involve a daily use of a low-concentration of benzyol peroxide preparations in combination with the suitable non-comedogenic moisturizers.
2. Topical antibiotics
The condition of acne is often worsened by the harmful bacteria trapped in the blocked follicles. You can use a variety of topical antibiotics that can kill these bacteria, thereby curing the problem. The most effective and popular among these include:
3. Oral antibiotics
This form of treatment is usually considered effective but advisable for mild to moderate acne, as the results can often be short-lived. The main products used in this category include:
4. Hormonal treatments
This form of treatment is especially useful for women. The most effective in this category is the combined effect of estrogen and progesterone method of hormonal contraception. Another effective product is Cyproterone, the anti-testosterone, in combination with estrogen such as Diane 35. An injection of cortisone administered directly into the pimple which does not respond to other milder form of treatments has also often been found quite effective.
5. Topical retinoids
Topical retinoids are a group of medications advised for normalizing the follicle cell life cycle. Though they are related to vitamin A, they are administered topically and generally do not have as many side effects. The most commonly used products in this category include:
- Tretinoin (Retin-A)
- Adapalene (Differin)
- Tazarotene (Tazorac)
6. Vitamins, minerals and herbs
In case your acne has occurred due to faulty dietary habits, which is quite often the reason, the intake of the following vitamins, herbs and minerals can be of great help:
- Vitamin A and zinc
- Vitamin B6 and folic acid, especially for acne related to menstrual dysfunction
- Antioxidants and multivitamins
- Vitamin B2 for acne rosacea
- Ginko biloba
7. Other methods
There are also some other methods used in the treatment acne which include:
- Oral retinoids
- Photodynamic therapy
- Laser treatment
“The Definitive Guide To Total Skin Care For Life” will continue with dry skin the next week. Read on as we reveal the concepts of quality skin care, the hazards your skin faces, their cures, remedies and above all, what you can do for this amazing organ of your body on your own.