cne vulgaris, most commonly referred to as just ‘acne’, is a skin condition. It occurs when hair follicles get clogged with excess oil from the skin and dead skin cells. This long-term skin disease usually affects areas of the skin with a high concentration of oil glands, such as the face, neck, back and chest.
Acne is characterised by the appearance of multiple whiteheads, blackheads, and scarring, as well as extensive areas of bumpy, red skin.
Although acne is one of the most common skin conditions, detailed and useful information about acne and how to treat it is somewhat scarce. Shining a light on this rather unpleasant and particularly persistent condition will help people understand acne better and helping you decide on how to treat it.
Signs and symptoms of acne
While acne is prevalent among prepubescent children and teenagers, they can also appear later in life. Women are more prone to acne due to the frequent hormonal fluctuations, but men tend to suffer from more severe cases of this condition.
One of the first signs of acne is the appearance of redness of the skin on the face and neck. The skin redness is a sign of inflammation happening below the surface of the epidermis. This occurs when hair follicles get clogged with excess sebum or dead skin cells.
The intensity of the redness will depend on the severity of the inflammation and can range from mild to severe. It can also affect different areas of the skin and manifest in red patches across the face.
The appearance of whiteheads and blackheads is usually a pretty clear sign of acne. Dead skin cells, along with excess sebum (an oily liquid produced by the epidermis) clog the hair follicles in the skin and form a plug. The skin immediately reacts to this with inflammation of the surrounding areas, which aides the deterioration of the plug. Once the plug starts to break down, whiteheads and blackheads start forming. Learn what are whiteheads and blackheads.
Both whiteheads and blackheads form as a result of this inflammation but manifest in different ways on the surface of the skin. Blackheads are created when the pore where the follicle is getting stretched out, and whiteheads form when the pore is closed. This allows the sebum gets trapped inside the follicle.
Scarring occurs when the inflamed skin around the affected follicle starts regenerating abnormally. It is estimated that acne scars affect almost 95% of the population suffering from acne vulgaris. Although it’s more likely that significant scarring occurs as a result of severe acne. Even milder cases of acne can result in visible scarring appearing on the face, back, neck and chest.
The most common type of scarring that occurs as a result of acne is atrophic acne scars. They appear when collagen is lost from the skin that’s been renewed after a case of acne and can vary in size, shape, and depth.
Pigmentation can also occur as a result of acne vulgaris. The exact size of the skin affected, the darkness or the pigmentation and how permanent the pigmentation is can vary. Hyperpigmentation occurs when nodular acne lesions leave behind inflamed dark marks. This kind of inflammation stimulates melanocytes, the cells that produce pigment in the epidermis, to create more melanin. A higher concentration of melanin leads to the appearance of dark spots on the skin.
While this type of hyperpigmentation is usually not permanent, it can be avoided with proper skin care regiments. It’s more likely to affect people with darker skin.
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What Causes Acne?
Even though acne is one of the most common skin conditions that affect people of all ages. The risk factors for its development have not been conclusively identified.
However, it seems that genetics play a significant role in the risk factor. For example, people with family members that have suffered or are suffering from acne are more likely to develop this skin condition themselves.
Other possible secondary contributors to acne include, but are not limited to:
Several different types of hormones have been linked to acne, primarily androgens testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). As well as growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). An increase in the production of androgens during puberty causes the hair follicle to become larger and produce more sebum. Other medical conditions that cause a high-androgen state such as polycystic ovary syndrome and congenital adrenal hyperplasia can also often cause acne.
Certain strains of anaerobic bacteria have been found to contribute to the development of acne.
High-glycemic-load diets have been found to affect the severity of acne. There is also observational evidence that suggests milk and other dairy products can cause acne. This is because milk contains whey proteins, IGF-1, and dihydrotestosterone, all which increase the likelihood of developing acne.
Many high-profile studies have confirmed stress can cause, and in some cases even worsen existing cases of acne. High concentration of hormones that occur as a result of stress (such as those in premenstrual syndrome) increase the production of sebum, subsequently causing acne.
There have been studies done on the impact of smoking on the appearance and severity of acne, yet most of them failed to provide conclusive results.
Possible Acne Treatments
Despite the persistent nature of the condition and the social stigma that comes to acne, there are a wide variety of ways to treat them.
While the most severe cases of acne will need acute medical care, milder cases can be sorted out with appropriate skin care regiments, procedures and lifestyle changes. Severe cases will require a systematic treatment with antibiotics, hormonal agents and oral retinoids.
Staying hydrated and implementing a low-sugar diet was found to help reduce acne and promote the overall health of the skin.
Skincare regiments that include products rich with benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, retinoids and salicylic acid efficiently reduce inflammation associated with acne and reduce the production of sebum in the epidermis.
Skin care procedures such as Microdermabrasion and chemical peels can significantly improve the condition of the skin affected with acne. Microdermabrasion is a low risk, pain-free procedure. It promotes the creation of new skin and is often used to reduce redness and scarring that occur with acne.
Chemical peels are also effective tools used to reduce the effect of acne on the skin. Chemical peels can be applied to the face, neck, chest and hands, making them perfect for removing hyperpigmentation and redness that appear as a result of acne.
How Can Rutland Aesthetics Help
At Rutland Aesthetics, Dr Dhesi has a strong medical background and will approach each patient differently depending on the severity of the acne. Acne is extremely common in teenage boys and girls and can be embarrassing, but with Dr Dhesi medical background as a GP, this will enable him to assess your or your child's skin and provide a proven acne treatment program.