Skin Conditions

What is Acne?

What is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that develops when the hair follicles are plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne is usually seen on the face, neck, chest, shoulders, and back. These areas have the most sebaceous or oil glands. Acne can be persistent at times like when one begins to go away, a new one or others will appear.

Acne affects 70% to 80% of teenagers. It is common and is usually treatable with several home remedies, skin care products, and medications.

Because acne has the ability to persist, acne can cause emotional stress. It could also leave a scar on the skin depending on its severity. If acne is treated early, there’s a lower risk of physical and emotional damage.

How Does Acne Develop?

There are several factors that cause acne. These are oil production, clogged pores, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

Hair follicles are connected to the body’s sebaceous glands, which secretes sebum, an oily substance that lubricates the skin and hair. Sebum travels through the hair shafts and openings of the hair follicles to reach the surface of the skin. When the body produced excess amount of sebum, it can build up in the hair follicles together with dead skin cells. A soft plug will then be formed which will create a place for bacteria to live. When the plugged pore becomes infected, it will lead to inflammation.

The plugged pore will either cause the follicle to bulge which will produce a whitehead or it will open to the surface of the skin and will darken which will lead to blackhead. A blackhead is dark because it is congested with oil and bacteria. It turns brown when it is exposed to air.

When the hair follicles become inflamed or infected, pimples will develop.

Risk Factors

  • Family history
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Friction or pressure on the skin
  • Greasy or oily substance

What are the Symptoms of Acne?

The signs and symptoms of acne depend on how severe the acne is. These include:

  • Whiteheads or closed plugged pores
  • Blackheads or open plugged pores
  • Pimples or pustules
  • Papules - small red, tender bumps
  • Cystic lesions - painful, pus filled lumps beneath the skin’s surface
  • Nodules - large, solid, painful lumps beneath the skin’s surface

Factors that Make Acne Worse

Stress – It has been proven that stress makes acne worse

Hormones – Certain hormones like androgens cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum. Androgen levels are usually high during puberty that’s why there’s a high incidence of acne cases in teenage boys and girls. Hormonal changes happening during pregnancy and oral contraceptives could also increase the production of sebum.

Diet – Research has shown that certain foods make acne worse. These include dairy products, carbohydrate rich foods and chocolates.

Medications – Drugs which contain androgens, corticosteroids and lithium can worsen acne.

When to see a doctor

Visit your primary health care provider if home care remedies don't work to manage your acne. Your doctor can prescribe stronger medications or if your acne persists or is severe, seek medical help to a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in skin conditions.

The Food and Drug Administration warns people on some non-prescription skin products because some popular acne lotions, cleansers and other skin products can cause a serious reaction. This type of reaction is quite rare. It’s not the common redness, irritation or itchiness reaction you know. Read the labels first and better yet, consult it with your doctor before using any skin products.