What is Acne?

How many times have you heard the question from people that suffer with acne, “What is Acne?” and “How do I get rid of it?” Crying out in sincere despair they want to know so they can live a “normal” life without fearing when the next flare up will come, “Will it be at the dance?”, “My date with Sally?”, “At graduation?” You really live with a foreboding anticipation of disaster. This is no joke either, studies do show that young people who have moderate to sever cases of acne will most likely suffer psychologically manifested in low self-esteem and even depression or suicidal tendencies.

So what is acne? Acne is really a general term that people use to define the red bumps and pimples that commonly occur with people that have more oily skin. This general term “acne” is used to describe many kinds of acne that may require different treatments from one another.

The different types of acne are:

  1. Acne vulgaris
  2. Acne conglobata
  3. Acne miliaris necrotica
  4. Tropical acne
  5. Infantile acne/Neonatal acne
  6. Excoriated acne
  7. Acne fulminans
  8. Drug-induced acne/Acne medicamentosa (Steroid acne)
  9. Halogen acne (Iododerma, Bromoderma, Chloracne)
  10. Oil acne
  11. Tar acne
  12. Acne cosmetica
  13. Occupational acne
  14. Acne aestivalis
  15. Acne keloidalis nuchae
  16. Acne mechanica
  17. Acne with facial edema
  18. Pomade acne
  19. Acne necrotica
  20. Blackhead
  21. Lupus miliaris disseminatus faciei

After looking over that list we see there are a number of reasons acne may plague our skin. It can be the result of medications that someone is taking.

The most common acne for young people is Acne Vulgaris, which is characterized by the red bumps and pimples that commonly occur on the forehead, face, neck, back, chest and shoulders and sometimes on the thighs.

So what is Acne? Many things but lets look at Acne Vulgaris, the most common type for young people and even adults into their 40’s and 50’s can experience “outbreaks” of acne.

Look at this picture…

The problem begins beneath the skin in the sebaceous glands. Acne typically develops as a hair follicle gets “plugged” by excess sebum, a naturally occurring oil and the addition of skin cells (keratin). This “plug” results in either a “blackhead” or a “whitehead” to form.

If in these favorable conditions, the naturally occurring bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, can cause inflammation, which leads to the redness in the skin, scarring and hyperpigmentation of the skin.

Factors that can cause the conditions to be present that will increase the likeliness of acne are:

  • Diet – Many of us have been told that chocolate and salt are culprits of worsening acne but there is no scientific studies to support that theory. On the other hand research has validated that a diet high in sugars and carbohydrates as well as the consumption of dairy products have shown to increase the likeliness of more severe acne.

  • Genetics – There is a tendency for acne to be present in families over generations.

  • Infections – The bacteria that causes the inflammation, Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), is a factor and typically antibiotics are given to reduce the occurrence of the inflammation. However, there is evidence that the bacterium can become and are becoming resistant to the antibiotics that are commonly used for the treatment of acne.

  • Psychological – Although there is an ongoing debate about the relationship of stress to acne or the flare up thereof there are studies that show a direct correlation. The National Institutes of Health (USA) list stress as a factor that “can cause an acne flare.”

  • Hormones – As young people mature and enter the puberty years the hormone androgen is present in increased levels. This causes the follicular gland to grow larger and increase the secretion of sebum leading to clogged pores.

  • To conclude and answer the question, “What is Acne?”, the answer resounds back. The clogging of the pores, typically from the increase of sebum secretion from the increase in the hormone androgen. When you add the bacterium an inflammation can result.

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    Comments on What is Acne? Leave a Comment

    November 1, 2010

    Helene @ 4:38 am #

    This is great information and so easy to understand. There are so many kinds of acne that it really surprised me.

    February 15, 2011

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    Light @ 7:13 am #

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