Acne is the most common skin disorder in this country, affecting individuals from adolescence through adulthood.
Symptoms of Acne
Since other skin conditions can mimic acne, it’s important a dermatologist confirms the diagnosis. Your dermatologist will also determine what type of acne you have.
Acne lesions include:
Whiteheads : White bumps filled with oil and dead skin cells, not exposed to air
Blackheads: Plug of dead skin and oil in the opening of a pore, exposed to air
Pustules: Inflamed, pus-filled lesions
Papules: Firm, pink to red bumps that are really inflamed whiteheads
Nodules: Deep, inflamed lesions
Cysts: Sacs filled with dead skin cells, oil, and puss deep in the skin
Acne is graded on a scale of 1 to 4 with Grade 1 being the mildest and Grade 4 the most severe. Your dermatologist will also determine the type of acne you have, since treatment varies from type-to-type. The four types of “severe” acne include:
Acne Conglobata: More common in young adult males, it is characterized by widespread blackheads, inflammatory nodules and abscesses that cause scarring
Acne Fulminans: Severe inflammatory acne that occurs suddenly and can occasionally be accompanied by fever and joint pain
Gram-negative folliculitis: Inflammation of the follicles caused by a bacterial infection. Usually seen in individuals on long-term antibiotics for acne treatment
Nodulocystic Acne: Produces acne cysts that can become large and widespread that may be very damaging to skin with severe scarring
Causes of Acne
Acne begins in the sebaceous hair follicles, or pores, below the skin’s surface. Over time, the pores can fill with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria, leading to pimples, whiteheads, blackheads and cysts.
Hormones: Acne commonly starts during teenage years when hormonal changes cause the sebaceous glands (oil glands) to increase sebum (oil) production. Hormones are also linked to skin breakouts some women experience during their menstrual cycles and pregnancy.
Skin Slough: As the skin continuously renews itself, the old cells are resurfaced and shed. When these dead skin cells mix with sebum (oil), skin pores can become blocked.
Bacterial Growth: The skin’s normal bacteria rapidly multiply in blocked pores, causing inflammation. As a result, pimples look red and irritated. Deep inflammation causes cysts and nodule formation.
Acne is not caused by poor hygiene and there is no scientific evidence linking foods like chocolate or pizza to acne flare-ups.
The condition does run in families. Oily cosmetic products, high humidity levels, perspiration and drugs like steroids and hormones may also trigger breakouts.