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Acne – A Basic Understanding

Statistics indicate that as high as 80% of the entire American population has ever had acne. Acne afflicts all genders, sexes and ages making it a universal skin disorder. As a form of skin disease, the good news is that acne is not transmittable.

Although acne is not contagious from person-to-person, it can spread to the whole face and can severely affect all the skin tissues that have pilosebaceous units. It is not true that acne just affects those going through puberty. Even infants or individuals who may be well over their forties, can develop this skin disorder.

Acne infantilis is the term used for acne that grows on newborn babies, on the other hand acne rosacea is related to middle-aged people.

Acne has different classifications, according to the severity of the infection.

Comedo is the form where all severe acne cases originate. This is characterized by red swelling or small lesions on your skin. Whiteheads and blackheads are two forms of comedo. Conversely, blackhead is an open comedo. The coloration is due to the accumulation of dark skin pigments called melanin, plus hardened sebum and other skin debris and particles. This is the basic structure of whiteheads, however, the only difference is the coloration and these are deeply situated into the skin layers.

If you have sandpaper-like skin around the tissue of your mouth and on the surface of your forehead, chin and cheeks, you probably have papules. Pus-filled lesions are also termed as pustules.

Nodules on the other hand are similar with pustules. However, nodules are firmer and are larger acne growing deep in the skin. Inflammation may develop your pustules into containing semi-liquid or liquid materials composed of white blood cells (which are dead because of the acne-infecting bacteria named as Propionibacterium acnes), dead skin cells and active or inactive bacteria. This can result into more serious acne called cysts.

In such situations, you may need the assistance of a skin dermatologist or physician.

What is the cause of acne? It is quite difficult to exactly determine what may have caused your acne infection as reasons differ case to case. Studies indicate that the skin disorder may be brought about by many factors, including poor diet, stress, weather elements, and hormone changes or may be genetically influenced.

Medically speaking, acne starts from the formation of hardened sebum, or the oily substance secreted to the skin through the sebaceous glands. This then will be permeated with acne-infecting bacteria, which in return will trigger the immune system to release white blood cells to obstruct the attack of the bacteria.

As this happens, dead white blood cells and bacteria will accumulate in the hair follicles mixed with skin debris and dead skin particles, which then will inflame the lesions.

Most mild case acne may be treated with over the counter acne medications. They are generally topical drugs, which you apply on your skin for acne treatment. They may come in the form of soaps, lotions, gels and creams. Conversely, systematic acne medications are taken orally. The most common of which are the antibiotics.

Knowing that you are not the only one inflicted with acne at some point in life or another helps in that there will always be new research and new products coming on stream. Continue to read up on acne research and help your fight against it.