Causes, Signs, Symtoms and Method Treatment for Acne

Causes, Signs, Symtoms and Method Treatment for Acne


What Is Acne?


Acne is a disorder resulting from the action of hormones on the skin's oil glands (sebaceous glands), which leads to plugged pores and outbreaks of lesions commonly called pimples or zits. Acne lesions usually occur on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Nearly 17 million people in the United States have acne, making it the most common skin disease. Although acne is not a serious health threat, severe acne can lead to disfiguring, permanent scarring, which can be upsetting to people who are affected by the disorder.
Causes, Signs, Symtoms and Method Treatment for Acne
Acne

Acne occurs most commonly during adolescence, and often continues into adulthood. In adolescence, acne is usually caused by an increase in testosterone, which accrues during puberty. For most people, acne diminishes over time and tends to disappear  or at the very least decreases  by age 25. There is, however, no way to predict how long it will take to disappear entirely, and some individuals will carry this condition well into their thirties, forties, and beyond.

Aside from scarring, its main effects are psychological, such as reduced self-esteem and in very extreme cases, depression or suicide. Acne usually appears during adolescence, when people already tend to be most socially insecure. Early and aggressive treatment is therefore advocated by some to lessen the overall long-term impact to individuals.

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What Causes Acne?


The exact cause of acne is unknown, but doctors believe it results from several related factors. One important factor is an increase in hormones called androgens (male sex hormones). These increase in both boys and girls during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or starting or stopping birth control pills can also cause acne.
Causes, Signs, Symtoms and Method Treatment for Acne

Another factor is heredity or genetics. Researchers believe that the tendency to develop acne can be inherited from parents. For example, studies have shown that many school-age boys with acne have a family history of the disorder. Certain drugs, including androgens and lithium, are known to cause acne. Greasy cosmetics may alter the cells of the follicles and make them stick together, producing a plug.




Factors That Can Make Acne Worse


Factors that can cause an acne flare include:
  • Changing hormone levels in adolescent girls and adult women 2 to 7 days before their menstrual period starts
  • Friction caused by leaning on or rubbing the skin
  • Pressure from bike helmets, backpacks, or tight collars
  • Environmental irritants, such as pollution and high humidity
  • Squeezing or picking at blemishes
  • Hard scrubbing of the skin.

Myths About the Causes of Acne


There are many myths about what causes acne. Chocolate and greasy foods are often blamed, but foods seem to have little effect on the development and course of acne in most people. Another common myth is that dirty skin causes acne; however, blackheads and other acne lesions are not caused by dirt. Finally, stress does not cause acne.

Signs and symptoms of Acne


Typical features of acne include: seborrhea (increased oil-sebum secretion), comedones, papules, pustules, nodules (large papules), and possibly scarring. The appearance of acne varies with skin color. It may result in psychological and social problems.

Causes, Signs, Symtoms and Method Treatment for Acne

Scars


Acne scars are the result of inflammation within the dermis brought on by acne. The scar is created by the wound trying to heal itself resulting in too much collagen in one spot.

Physical acne scars are often referred to as "ice pick" scars. This is because the scars tend to cause an indentation in the skin's surface. There is a range of treatments available. Although quite rare, the medical condition atrophia maculosa varioliformis cutis also results in "acne-like" depressed scars on the face.
  • Ice pick scars: Deep pits, that are the most common and a classic sign of acne scarring.
  • Box car scars: Angular scars that usually occur on the temple and cheeks, and can be either superficial or deep, these are similar to chickenpox scars.
  • Rolling scars: Scars that give the skin a wave-like appearance.
  • Hypertrophic scars: Thickened, or keloid scars.

Pigmentation


Pigmented scars is a slightly misleading term, as it suggests a change in the skin's pigmentation and that they are true scars; however, neither is true. Pigmented scars are usually the result of nodular or cystic acne (the painful 'bumps' lying under the skin). They often leave behind an inflamed red mark. Often, the pigmentation scars can be avoided simply by avoiding aggravation of the nodule or cyst. Pigmentation scars nearly always fade with time taking between three months to two years to do so, although can last indefinitely if untreated.

Who Gets Acne?


Causes, Signs, Symtoms and Method Treatment for Acne

People of all races and ages get acne. It is most common in adolescents and young adults. Nearly 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 develop the disorder. For most people, acne tends to go away by the time they reach their thirties; however, some people in their forties and fifties continue to have this skin problem.

How Does Acne Develop?


Doctors describe acne as a disease of the pilosebaceous units (PSUs). Found over most of the body, PSUs consist of a sebaceous gland connected to a canal, called a follicle, that contains a fine hair (see "Normal Pilosebaceous Unit" diagram, below). These units are most numerous on the face, upper back, and chest. The sebaceous glands make an oily substance called sebum that normally empties onto the skin surface through the opening of the follicle, commonly called a pore. Cells called keratinocytes line the follicle.
How Does Acne Develop?
Acne Develop

The hair, sebum, and keratinocytes that fill the narrow follicle may produce a plug, which is an early sign of acne. The plug prevents sebum from reaching the surface of the skin through a pore. The mixture of oil and cells allows bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) that normally live on the skin to grow in the plugged follicles. These bacteria produce chemicals and enzymes and attract white blood cells that cause inflammation. (Inflammation is a characteristic reaction of tissues to disease or injury and is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain.) When the wall of the plugged follicle breaks down, it spills everything into the nearby skin--sebum, shed skin cells, and bacteria--leading to lesions or pimples.

People with acne frequently have a variety of lesions, some of which are shown in the diagrams below. The basic acne lesion, called the comedo (KOM-e-do), is simply an enlarged and plugged hair follicle. If the plugged follicle, or comedo, stays beneath the skin, it is called a closed comedo and produces a white bump called a whitehead. A comedo that reaches the surface of the skin and opens up is called a blackhead because it looks black on the skin's surface. This black discoloration is not due to dirt. Both whiteheads and blackheads may stay in the skin for a long time.

Other troublesome acne lesions can develop, including the following:
  • Papules--inflamed lesions that usually appear as small, pink bumps on the skin and can be tender to the touch
  • Pustules (pimples)--papules topped by pus-filled lesions that may be red at the base
  • Nodules--large, painful, solid lesions that are lodged deep within the skin
  • Cysts--deep, painful, pus-filled lesions that can cause scarring.

Methods of Acne Treatment?


Acne is often treated by dermatologists (doctors who specialize in skin problems). These doctors treat all kinds of acne, particularly severe cases. Doctors who are general or family practitioners, pediatricians, or internists may treat patients with milder cases of acne.

The goals of treatment are to heal existing lesions, stop new lesions from forming, prevent scarring, and minimize the psychological stress and embarrassment caused by this disease. Drug treatment is aimed at reducing several problems that play a part in causing acne: abnormal clumping of cells in the follicles, increased oil production, bacteria, and inflammation. Depending on the extent of the person's acne, the doctor will recommend one of several over-the-counter (OTC) medicines or prescription medicines that are topical (applied to the skin) or systemic (taken by mouth). The doctor may suggest using more than one topical medicine or combining oral and topical medicines.

Other Acne Treatments


Doctors may use other types of procedures in addition to drug therapy to treat patients with acne. For example, the doctor may remove the patient's comedones during office visits. Sometimes the doctor will inject cortisone directly into lesions to help reduce the size and pain of inflamed cysts and nodules.
Causes, Signs, Symtoms and Method Treatment for Acne

Early treatment is the best way to prevent acne scars. Once scarring has occurred, the doctor may suggest a medical or surgical procedure to help reduce the scars. A superficial laser may be used to treat irregular scars. Another kind of laser allows energy to go deeper into the skin and tighten the underlying tissue and plump out depressed scars. Dermabrasion (or microdermabrasion), which is a form of "sanding down" scars, is sometimes combined with the subsurface laser treatment. Another treatment option for deep scars caused by cystic acne is the transfer of fat from one part of the body to the face.
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Hormonally Influenced Acne Treatment in Women


Clues that help the doctor determine whether acne in an adult woman is due to an excess of androgen hormones are hirsutism (excessive growth of hair in unusual places), premenstrual acne flares, irregular menstrual cycles, and elevated blood levels of certain androgens. The doctor may prescribe one of several drugs to treat women with this type of acne. Low-dose estrogen birth control pills help suppress the androgen produced by the ovaries. Low-dose corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone or dexamethasone, may suppress the androgen produced by the adrenal glands. Finally, the doctor may prescribe an antiandrogen drug, such as spironolactone (Aldactone). This medicine reduces excessive oil production. Side effects of antiandrogen drugs may include irregular menstruation, tender breasts, headache, and fatigue.

The relationship between diet and acne


The relationship between diet and acne is not very clear as there is no good quality evidence. However, a high glycemic load diet is associated with worsening acne. There is also a positive association between the consumption of milk and a greater rate and severity of acne. Other associations such as chocolate and salt are not supported by the evidence. Chocolate however does contain a varying amount of sugar that can lead to a high glycemic load, and it can be made with or without milk. There may be a relationship between acne and insulin metabolism and a dated trial found a relationship between acne and obesity.