Diseases

Acne: Intro, Causes, diagnosis, Treatment & Complications 

Acne Intro, Causes, diagnosis, Treatment & Complications 

What is acne?

Acne is a familiar skin condition that affects the majority of the population at some point in their life.

It may range from mild spots, blackheads, and pimples to excessive bloom of pustules, papules, white heads, blackheads etc.

This condition may become so severe that skin becomes oily and hurts on touching.

Condition of is more prone to occur in the following areas:

  • Face — almost everyone harbours acne at this common spot
  • Back — more than half of the population faces back acne.
  • Chest — acne in 15% of the population inflicts on the back.

Also Read: Stroke: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Acnes cause spots in the skin, which can be categorized into 6 main types

Blackheads

 These are tiny black or pale lumps that protrude on the skin. Their black appearance is due to thickened inner lining of the hair follicle and not because of dirt clogs.

Whiteheads 

These are identical in appearance to blackheads, however, they are firmer and have a similar appearance to blackheads, but may be stiffer and don’ t evacuate when squeezed.

Papules

These are small bumps that are sore, red and may hurt.

Pustules

These are identical to papules, but tease a white tip due to accumulation of pus in them.

Nodules

These are big solid lumps that develop just beneath the skin surface and may be tender.

Cysts  

 These acne spots are big lumps filled with pus that are identical in appearance to boils.

These are the scariest types of spots inflicted by acne. Cysts in fact are highly potent of leaving permanent scars on the affected area.

Causes of Acne

Hormonal shift

Acnes are believed to be triggered by hormonal fluctuations primarily during puberty but can occur at any age.

Hair follicles have sebaceous glands adjoining them, beneath the skin. These glands secrete an oily substance called sebum.

However, certain hormones and their imbalances may cause these grease-producing glands to produce abnormal amount of sebum

Such a flux of sebum alters the activity of a skin bacterium P. acnes usually innocuous to malignant and cause inflammation and pus.

The hormones also enlarge the inner layer of the hair follicle, which results in clogging of the pores. Unfortunately, this blockage cannot be eradicated simply by cleaning the skin.

These hormonal changes may show up during the times of menstruation, teenage or due to some substance abuse.

Inheritance

The Root of acne may be often traced back to the family history of a person. A person whose pedigree manifests instances of acne in either of the closest member especially parents, is likely to develop acne condition.

Teenage

Teenage is a phase of rigorous hormonal activities. Because sebaceous glands are highly sensitive to hormonal shifts therefore as the testosterone levels surge, it particularly incites acne bloom during puberty.

If the blocked follicle is adjacent to the surface of the skin, it swells out, forming a whitehead. Whereas if the blocked follicle is exposed on to the skin it can create a blackhead.

Medications

Some medications such as anti- depressants, lithium, steroidal drugs, anti- epileptic drugs etc. possibly cause acne growth.

Certain cosmetics

Although rare but cosmetic products can develop acne. However, most of the products are examined carefully and are non- comedogenic.

Smoking and substance abuse

Smoking greatly influences internal functioning of the body. It can be a potential trigger to cause acne in senior adults.

How To Diagnose Acne

Acnes are detected by the dermatologist our pharmacist can diagnose acne by eyeing the skin of a person.

The doctor identifies different sorts of acne spots such as blackheads, whiteheads, nodules etc. by looking at your back, chest, or face.

Severity of acne is contingent upon abundance of spots, extent of pain and inflammation in the acne elements.

This step is crucial in determining the treatment and medications relevant for the individual.

To gauze the severity of acne there are four levels of it spanning from mild to stern grade.

These levels are mentioned as below:

Level 1 (mild)

This acne basically consists of whiteheads and blackheads, and a few papules and pustules.

Level 2 (moderate)

This level is characterized by more papules and pustules particularly occurring on the face.

Level 3 (moderately severe)

This phase is more towards serious acne condition and bears enormous number of papules and pustules. Frequent tender and inflamed nodules may as well wreak the back and chest of a person.

Level 4 (severe)

This level gives refuge to the severest types of acne spots specifically, large, hurting pustules, papules, and nodules.

Treating acne

Before preparing the medications and treatment plan, dermatologists generally observe the severity and extent of acne.

If a person has few blackheads, whiteheads, and other mild symptoms, it can be successfully cured by using over the counter ointments.

There is no permanent treatment to clear up the acne however medicines are available to limit its growth.

Furthermore, acne treatment medications do not render the results overnight and may take up to 3 months.

In case papules, pustules and nodules are too large and do not show any progress even by using various over the counter, gels, creams and other drugs, it is imperative that you see a dermatologist.

Acne can be treated using the following approaches:

Topical remedies

This includes different gels, creams, ointments, and lotions to counter acne growth.

Benzoyl peroxide is one such ointment that curtails the activity of acne causing bacteria. It is available in the formulations of gels and creams.

Usage:

  • thoroughly wash and dry your affected skin
  • wait for 20 minutes and apply benzoyl peroxide

Side effects:

Benzoyl peroxide may sensitize your skin to sun and UV light.

May cause dryness and flaky skin

Skin irritation and redness

Other topical remedies include, azelaic acid, topical retinoids, topical antibiotics, etc.

Hormonal therapies

Since most of the acne are caused due to hormonal imbalances, this method works well to counter acne.

Hormonal therapies are usually found more effective in women who see the skin condition around their menses or due to PCOS.

Medic may prescribe common oral contraceptives as well to control and improve acne, even in women who are sexually dormant.

Hormonal therapies, however, may take about a year to communicate the results.

Some known hormonal treatments for acnes are:

 Isotretinoin:

It is a therapy that comes to rescue when respective antibiotics do not succeed in treating the acne spots. It works by normalizing sebum, prevents blockage of pores and controls the bacteria.

Co- Cyprinidiol:

It is a hormonal therapy that is administered to curb the acne development on skin. Co- cyprinidiol although is prescribed particularly to treat severe acne condition.

Non-pharmaceutical Remedies

Many treatments for acne don’t involve medication.

These are mentioned as below:

  • Comedone extractor — a small pen-shaped tool is manipulated to clean out blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Chemical peels — in this technique a chemical emulsion is applied on the face, setting off the skin to peel off and get it replaced by a new skin.
  • Photodynamic therapy — where light is manoeuvred to the skin in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of acne.

However, these treatments are low in credibility and may not work out effectively.

Bottom line

Acne is a common skin condition that affects almost everyone. It usually occurs in teenagers due to rigorous hormonal shifts in their body. Acnes may range from mild to harsh in their intensity.

This condition can be controlled using various treatments available.

Further Reading:

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