January 24, 2011 – What is acne?
Acne is the most common skin disorder in the world in which the Sebaceous Glands become inflamed. These are glands that secrete sebum, an oily substance that keeps skin oily and prevent dryness; and are attached to the root of the hair follicles.
Acne generally begins to manifest during adolescence where sebum produced by the glands is trapped in by a protein produced from skin cells called Keratin. The Keratin blockage becomes black, forming Blackheads.
How common is acne?
Its is estimated that 85% of the population aged between 12 and 25 years are affected by acne. It is most common among the adolescent boys than girls. In women the most commonly afflicted group is aged 20 – 40.
How acne erupts
The exact cause of acne is unknown; however, there is the presence of clogged hair follicles and the reaction of sebaceous glands. With an additional dead skin cells that become “sticky”; the blocked pores, and dead bacteria, you have the makings of a breakout. These are the triggers of acne;
• Excessive hormones, also called Androgens, that are produced by ovaries and testes. During puberty, pregnancy, or menses, there is an excess production that stimulates the sebaceous oil glands to manufacture of excess amounts of sebum.
The excess sebum cannot be quickly released from the skin and becomes trapped in the glands.
• Environmental factors such as use of some cosmetics cause the epithelium to overgrow the hair follicular surface. Follicles then trap in sebum that has an increased concentration of bacteria and fats leading to more pressure, rupture and inflammation.
• Dietary fats; increased consumption of dietary fats and steroids is associated with excessive production of sebum.
• Bacterial colonization of the hair follicular ducts where sebum passes through leads to clogging and retention of sebum.
• Genetic susceptibility. Acne condition is hereditary in about 50% of those affected. Studies have shown a high concordance of the sebum excretion rate and acne in identical (monozygotic) twins.
Types of acne
Although there are a number of rare forms of acne, most experts divide acne into three main types:
• Comedonal acne;This is the mildest form that consists of whiteheads and blackheads alone, without the presence of other acne lesions.
• Acne vulgaris; Consisting of a mix of comedones, papules, and pustules. This is also called common acne affecting 90 percent of patients.
• Cystic acne; the most severe form of acne that presents with comedones, papules, pustules and numerous acne cysts. Types of acne lesions:
• Whiteheads; These resemble small white bumps and are about the size of a pinhead. They form below the skin as the follicles become more clogged and enlarged. They never reach the skin’s surface or open up and are therefore called closed comedones.
• Blackheads; are closed comedones that grow upward until they break through the skin’s surface. They are usually visible and open to the skin’s surface and full of keratin and bacteria. These are known as open comedones.
• Papules; small, firm, red bumps that appear due to inflammation of whiteheads as they burst and the contents spread to surrounding tissues. They are more severe acne lesions than comedones, painful to touch
• Pustules; Are papules that have formed pus in them and appear larger than the papules, with a red at the base, and a yellowish, pus-filled inner region.
The people at most risk of developing acne vulgaris and cystic acne than others are the adolescents, adult women, people under stress, people taking certain medications, and people whose parents had acne.