Acne - Symptoms and Treatment
Acne is a common skin disease resulting from the action of hormones and other substances on the skin's oil glands and hair follicles. No one knows exactly what causes acne. Hormone changes, such as those during the teenage years and pregnancy, probably play a role. Chocolate and greasy foods are often blamed, but there is little evidence that foods have much effect on acne in most people. Acne lesions usually occur on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Although acne is usually not a serious health threat, it can be a source of significant emotional distress. Severe acne can lead to permanent scarring. Anyone can get acne, but it is common in teenagers and young adults. It is not serious, but it can cause scars. Another common myth is that dirty skin causes acne; however, blackheads and pimples are not caused by dirt. Stress doesn't cause acne, but stress can make it worse. Acne affects people of all skin colours. The processes that cause acne are exactly the same in people with black or brown skin but the impact is altered by the skin pigmentation.
Acne usually appears during adolescence, when people already tend to be most socially insecure. Early and aggressive treatment is therefore advocated to lessen the overall impact to individuals. In most cases, acne starts between the ages of ten and thirteen and usually lasts for five to ten years. It normally goes away on its own sometime in the early twenties. Young men are more likely than young women to have more severe, longer lasting forms of acne. However, acne can persist into the late twenties or thirties or even beyond. Some people get acne for the first time as adults. Severe acne can cause scars which will never disappear. Acne can also cause psychological stress and be socially disabling. An early effective treatment is therefore imperative. It most cases it should get better without treatment. However, in some people this may take many years and can potentially cause permanent scarring, so a variety of treatments are available.
Causes of Acne
The exact cause of acne is unknown. Acne sometimes seems to run in families, so there may be a genetic factor that makes certain people more likely to have it. The sebaceous glands of people with acne are especially sensitive to normal blood levels of a hormone called testosterone, found naturally in both men and women. One important factor is an increase in hormones called androgens. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or starting or stopping birth control pills can also cause acne. Pimples are often caused by Propionebacterium acnes, a common bacterium on the skin that feeds on sebum. This bacterium produces waste products and fatty acids that irritate the sebaceous glands and make them inflamed.
Common causes and risk factors of Acne:
Signs and Symptoms of Acne
Severe acne can cause scars which will never disappear. Acne spots appear in areas of skin that have a large number of sebaceous glands. They appear most often on the face, but can also form in other places such as the neck, shoulders, behind the ears, on the chest, on the buttocks and on the upper back. Acne can also cause psychological stress and be socially disabling. The inflammation disappears over a few days or weeks, depending on the severity. Hard lumps under the skin that can be very painful, go deep into the skin and often cause scars. These are the most common type of spot found in very severe acne, and they often run together in groups. When they heal, they may leave scars.
Sign and symptoms may include the following :
Treatment for Acne
The type of treatment depends on how severe the acne is, and whether it is inflammatory. The simplest treatment for acne is the daily use of ordinary soap and water. If the acne is severe, a skin specialist may prescribe isotretinoin, a retinoid taken by mouth that acts to loosen excess skin cells and reduce sebum secretion. Clindamycin can also be used to treat more severe cases of acne. No home treatments for acne will work immediately. It can take weeks, if not months, for significant effects to be noticeable. Oral prescription medications for acne should not be used during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.
Treatment may include:
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