Acne is a disorder of the sebaceous glands and the hair follicles. Acne can be a temporary annoyance or it can be a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin. It is commonly thought by many people that greasy food causes acne, but it’s not true. The culprit for acne breakouts is our hormones. Acne is seen mostly in young teenagers, although anyone can get acne. Many women get acne before their monthly period is going to start, which is due to the changes in hormones. It is also thought by some that stress can cause acne; stress can cause acne to get worse, but stress doesn’t actually cause acne to break out to begin with.
Types of mild acne include:
Whiteheads – Whiteheads are caused when the pores of the skin get completely blocked; the natural oil, dead skin cells and bacteria become trapped in the pores. Whiteheads are the stage of acne before blackheads appear.
Blackheads – Blackheads and are the mildest types of acne. Blackheads appear during the early period of adolescence on the nose and forehead. Blackheads are common in adults, as well as teens. Although, blackheads may look like trapped dirt under the skin, they aren’t. The black color is the body’s own skin pigment, melanin, combined with oxygen.
Papules – Papules are tender red inflamed bumps which form on the face, chest and backs of many teens and adults. Papules don’t have heads. Women and girls are more likely to get papules before and after menstruation. They are more apt to appear on the cheeks, chin and jaw line of girls, and chest and shoulders on men and teenage boys.
Pustules – Pustules are inflamed red bumps which have a white or yellow center in them. Pustules are what we call zits. It is quite common for us to squeeze a zit, but we should leave them alone to resolve on their own, if at all possible. Squeezing a zit could cause a major infection if your immune system is compromised in any way.
If done the right way, draining a pustule can help heal it; therefore, if you insist on draining a pustule, click here to read how to pop a pimple.
Types of severe acne include:
Acne vulgaris – Acne vulgaris is a type of acne that manifests as nodules and cysts. Nodules and cysts will be discussed separately below:
Nodules – Nodules are much more severe than the above mentioned types of acne. The inflammation of these lesions increases as the papules and pustules grow. Nodules can grow on the shoulders, chest, neck, upper back and face. Nodules are larger and much more painful than other less serious forms of acne. This type of acne can last for months. It is very important that you don’t pick at or squeeze nodules, because nodules tend to leave scars on the skin. If you have nodules on your skin, you will need to be treated by a dermatologist
Cystic acne – Cystic acne, also known as nodulocystic acne are very painful. Cystic acne may also be accompanied by pustules, papules and nodules. Breakouts of cystic acne can be dangerous. This type of acne can occur on the face, shoulders, upper arms, chest and back. Cystic acne leaves scars; this type of acne can take months to clear. Once the cysts start spreading, it becomes very difficult to control them. If you have cystic acne, you will need to see a dermatologist for treatment. Medications can be prescribed to heal your skin.
We have normal flora (bacteria) that lives on our skin. The sebaceous glands within our skin are designed to produce an oily substance called sebum. When the glands are working properly, the pours fill up with sebum and spread out over the skin. Sebum acts like a moisturizer for the skin. The skin that is sloughed off within the pours can be washed out of the pours. However, when sebaceous glands become blocked or the hair follicles become blocked, the sebum cannot flow out and function normally. The skin cells and bacteria become trapped within the pours which can begin the inflammatory process that leads to acne.
It’s commonly thought by many that people get acne because they don’t wash their skin enough; this isn’t true. However, it is important to gently wash the skin to help wash away the dead skin cells that are produced every day. It’s also important, if you have acne, not to scrub your skin because scrubbing can cause more inflammation of the affected area.
If you are treating acne on your face, it is important to avoid using cosmetics that may sink into the pours and cause further blockages. If you use lotions and sunscreens, they should not be of an oil base. Consult your doctor about using over-the-counter preparations to treat your acne. If your acne is chronic and inflammatory, you will need to be treated by your family doctor or dermatologist.