How and why does acne, which is especially a nuisance to us during adolescence, shatter our self-confidence? What is acne actually? How does acne form? What are the factors that trigger the formation of acne? What are the types of acne? Is there any treatment for acne? Myths about acne. Now we will try to find the answers to these questions.
What is acne and How does acne form?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 80 percent of people between the ages of 11 and 30 have outbreaks of skin disorder at some point.
Many people get rid of acne in their thirties, but for some, the problem of acne can continue until the forties and fifties.
The incidence of adult acne after puberty is four times higher in women than in men.
Spurred by inflammation of skin glands and of tiny and narrow canals in the skin known as hair follicles, acne is marked by pimples and other lesions. It commonly appears on the neck, back, face, chest, and shoulders.
Acne is not usually a serious health condition. But it can cause significant emotional distress, as well as permanent scarring of skin tissue.
Just under our skin, there are hair sacs and sebaceous glands that are connected to them. Oily and waxy substance called sebum, produced in sebaceous glands spreads to our skin through hair sacs.
Sex hormones called androgens increase in adolescence and cause the sebaceous glands to grow more and produce more sebum.
Acne is triggered by clogging the pores on the hair sacs with dead skin pieces and sebum. The bacterial species Propionibacterium acnes, which is generally harmless on our skin (acne scars), also plays an active role in the formation of acne.
Factors believed to be related to acne formation include
- Increases in sex hormones called androgens that occur in both boys and girls during puberty. Androgens cause sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum in hair follicles
- Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or starting or stopping the use of birth control pills.
In addition, contrary to popular belief, there is no test result on the connection between food consumption and acne formation.
Types of Acne
Every mark on the skin produced by acne is a type of lesion. The mildest cases of acne produce blackheads and whiteheads. (The color of these is determined by whether the plugged follicle remains open or closed. If it is closed, it is a whitehead.)
More troublesome acne lesions include
- Papules – inflamed lesions that usually appear as small, pink bumps on the skin and can be tender to the touch.
- Cysts – painful, deep, pus-filled lesions that can cause scarring.
- Pustules (pimples) – white or yellow pus-filled lesions that may be red at the base.
- Nodules – large, painful, solid lesions lodged deep within the skin.
Effect of Propionibacterium acnes on Acne Formation
Although the exact biochemical causes of the process are not yet known, the effect of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria on acne formation was investigated in 2016 by Richard Gallo and his team of researchers at the University of California.
The bacteria in the hair sacs under the clogged pores cause fire (inflammation) in the skin cells around them by converting sebum secretion into fatty acids in an oxygen-free environment.
In this experimental study, it has been observed that the enzyme called histone deacetylase, which suppresses inflammation, is disabled by fatty acids.
Consequently, it has been found out that the inflammatory activity in the cells whose protection is decreasing, and the guard is falling causes acne formation.
Bacteria interlock with each other to form a structure called biofilms are locked to the skin and are very difficult to remove. Therefore, trying to keep the spotty skin surface clean all the time does not usually improve the situation.
In other words, we can say that acne exterminating soaps did not actually work.
In their current research, the research team continues to work on certain treatment methods that will restrain fatty acids or stop their effects on the skin.
Beware of Myths
Here are some facts about acne:
- Acne is not caused by poor hygiene, sweating, or not washing. These factors do not cause clogged pores that contribute to acne development. While medicated washes containing benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, and sulfur are one form of treatment for acne, simple soap and water do not treat the condition.
- There is no known way to prevent the development of acne.
- Acne is not caused by diet. No scientific connection has been found between diet and acne. No food—not chocolate, fries, pizza, hamburger, or any other food—has been shown to cause acne.
- It can be thought that the development of acne can be prevented. The condition can be treated. OTC products are available for this purpose. Do not let them use your skin as a test board and consider seeing it with a dermatologist.
FDA regulates acne treatments under the same provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act covering prescription and non-prescription (or OTC) products.
Topical OTC medicines are applied to the skin and come in many forms, including gels, lotions, creams, soaps, and pads. Typical non-prescription treatments products for mild acne include benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, sulfur, and salicylic acid.
It is best to read the labels or talk to your health care professional (dermatologist) before you use any of these products, so that you know which is right for you, what if any side effects may occur, and when you can expect to see results.
Types of prescription topical medicines (locally applied) used to treat acne include antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, dapsone, and vitamin A derivatives known as retinoids.
People with moderate to severe inflammatory acne may be treated with prescription topical or oral medicines, alone or in combination. And people with nodules or cysts should be treated by a dermatologist.