Acne affects almost everyone, but especially adolescents. More than 90% of all adolescents, nearly 50% of all adult women and 25% of all adults suffer from this problem. It is one of the most widespread medical conditions in the world. There are ways to help this problem to help your face and skin.
The most important step in managing acne is to prevent it from occuring. You want to stop this condition before it exhibits disfiguring visual symptoms. Even if you already have acne, there are many acne treatments that helps you accomplish prevent and treat the condition. Just remember that it is important to stick with it. Even after pimples and other lesions disappear, you must continue the treatment regimen to help prevent new blemishes from forming. As the first signs of recurrence appear, aggressively treat the problem. The sooner you address your acne, the less likely you are to experience permanent damage to your skin. In order to stop, let’s discuss how and why it occurs.
HOW ACNE BEGINS
Acne is really not necessarily your fault. Many people have this misconception. Acne is not caused by anything you’re doing, such as what you eat, how often you wash your face or work out, but by a combination of factors at work far beneath the surface of your skin.
A blemish starts deep in your skin within your sebaceous hair follicles the tiny holes commonly called pores. It begins to form approximately 2-3 weeks before it appears on your skin’s surface. Your sebaceous glands produce sebum, the oil that keeps your skin moist and pliable. This sebum must come out a pore, or tiny opening, in your skin.
When this pore gets plugged up, the sebum (oil) gets trapped. When bacteria get inside the follicle, the resulting combination results in pimples and blemishes. The most common reason why pores get plugged is due to inadequate sloughing of the skin as it renews itself.
When the old skin cells die and mix with your skin’s natural oils, they must slough off. Under normal circumstances, these cells are shed gradually, making room for fresh new skin. When uneven shedding occurs, especially within the hair follicle, the dead skin cells become sticky and clump together forming a plug. This plug, or comedo, traps the oil and bacteria inside the follicle.
Trapped oil and bacteria within the follicle cause your body to attack the bacteria with white blood cells and other forces. The resultant inflammatory response of your body causes the distruction of your tissue with subsequent scarring if left untreated. The process of forming a pimple may take 2-3 weeks, and this is the time to hit the acne problem aggressively before permanent scarring occurs.
THE FIVE CAUSES OF ACNE
The main factors that result in acne can be broken down into five categories. Knowing these factors helps us in treating the condition to preserve your skin. One of the best weapons in the fight against acne is knowledge. If you know what causes acne, you can then formulate a good plan of attack to prevent and/or treat it.
There are five primary factors that contribute to the development of ace. Each of these factors may vary dramatically between individuals. Although you may not have control over these factors, understanding them can help you treat your acne problem.
The majority of acne sufferers have some amount of hormonal changes occuring within their body. These normally start at puberty when your body begins to produce hormones called androgens. These hormones cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and secrete much oil. Although this is a natural part of the body’s development, in acne sufferers, the sebaceous glands are overstimulated by androgens and this may continue well into adulthood. Androgens are also responsible for acne flare-ups associated with the menstrual cycle and, on occasion, pregnancy.
2. EXCESS SEBUM
When the sebaceous gland is stimulated by androgens, it produces extra sebum. This sebum mixes with common skin bacteria and dead skin cells that have been shed from the lining of the follicle. While this process is normal, if too much sebum is produced in the follicle, the chances of clogging the follicle increases, thus causing acne.
3. EXCESSIVELY RAPID SKIN CELL TURNOVER
Normally, dead cells within the follicle shed gradually and are expelled onto the skin’s surface. But in patients with overactive sebaceous glands and in nearly everyone during puberty these cells are shed more rapidly. Mixed with a surplus of sebum, the dead skin cells form a plug in the follicle, preventing the skin from finishing its natural process of renewal.
A common skin bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes for short, can cause much of the damage of acne. It is a natural resident on the skin that normally doesn’t cause a problem. However, once a follicle is plugged, P. acnes bacteria multiply rapidly, creating inflammation in the follicle and surrounding skin.
The natural response of your body to unwanted bacteria is to send an army of white blood cells to attack the intruders. This process is called the inflammatory response. It is what causes pimples to become red, swollen and painful. The inflammatory response is different for everyone, but it is especially strong in adolescents and adult women.
SEVERITY OF ACNE
Now that you know how acne is caused, the next step in determining your treatment is to determine the type and severity of your acne condition. Acne varies with each individual. It not only can take many forms, but it also can have a highly variable response to treatment. The more you know about your specific form of acne, the more likely you are to find a treatment that works for you. We’ll learn more about the types of acne in my next segment on acne.
Robert L. True, MD, FACOG, AACS Colleyville, TX817-399-TRUE Smart Choices for a Better Body: SmartLipo – Smart Breast Aug – Smart Tummy Tuck – Aesthetics – Gynecology – The True Wellness