What is Acne?
Anyone can acquire acne, but it is usually teenagers and young adults that experience the greatest occurrence of acne. It is not life threatening, but can cause scars on the skin and can have detrimental effects on the emotional state of the person with acne.
Whether you are ten years old facing acne or thirty years old, all acne is a disorder of the pilosebaceous unit. This pilosebaceous unit is constructed of a hair follicle, a sebaceous secretor and a hair. These pilosebaceous units are found everyplace on the physical body excluding on the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet, nor the top of your feet, and the lower lip. The total of pilosebaceous units is much greater upon the face, upper neck, chest and even your shoulders. For instance, It is estimated that our forehead contains roughly 20,000 oil glands per square inch. Sebaceous secretors develop a substance called sebum, which is creditworthy for keeping the epidermis and hair moisturized. However, this natural moisturizer in over abundance creates a favorable environment for acne to occur.
During adolescence, sebaceous secretors begin to develop and expand creating allowing the secretion of sebum to become excessive. Subsequently, around age twenty, sebum output begins to diminish but that age does vary from person to person determined by our genes.
A bacterium, known as propionibacterium acnes, is a normal inhibitor of the epidermis. The bacterium uses sebum as nutrition for development and consequently increases in numbers in follicles during puberty for boys and girls. People with acne have a greater number of propionibacterium acnes in their hair follicles than people without acne. The presence of bacteria attracts white blood cells to the follicle. These white blood cells develop an enzyme that destroys the lining of this follicle, allowing the substance of the damaged follicle to penetrate the epidermis.
This process unfortunately causes an inflammatory response visible as papules (red bumps), pustules and nodules. The bacterium also stimulate the production of free fatty acids, that are irritants and increase the inflammatory process within the follicle.
Sebum created by the sebaceous secretor adheres to cells being sloughed off within the hair follicle and “fills up” the hair follicle. When the follicle is “full”, the sebum spreads over the skin surface giving the skin an oily appearance. When this process works correctly, the skin is moisturized and remains healthy.
Problems occur when the sebum is entrapped in the hair follicle. For reasons that are still unknown, some hair follicles become obstructed. The sebum is produced but gets entrapped on the way out, and the cells that are usually sloughed off become “sticky”, clogging up the follicle. The process of obstructing follicles is called comedogenesis. It causes some follicles to form a type of acne called comedones, also known as blackheads and/or whiteheads.