Acne is medically known as acne vulgaris. In other terms, we call them pimples. Most people had acne when they were teenagers. Others continue to develop pimples during adulthood. Various self-acclaimed cosmetologists around the cities are proud of curing your pimples through a plethora of fabrications. But, do they? Today, we shall highlight everything you need to know about acne and how to manage it.
Most people develop acne that varies from a few pimples to many comedones, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts that may require surgery to treat. Developing acne is part of the teenage period. It follows a surge in hormones, in particular, androgens (male sex hormones).
During adolescence, the body converts testosterone, an androgen hormone, to a more potent product – dehydroepiandrosterone. Under normal circumstances, the sebaceous glands, responsible for oiling your skin by secreting sebum, increase their activity during adolescence. It is so because they become sensitive to the circulating androgens. The degree of such sensitivity may dictate how much acne you will develop.
In many instances, pimples come and go – self-limiting acne vulgaris. At other times, they persist and are on a chronic course form. It is when people become agitated, depressed, and anxious about their skin texture and tone.
Noteworthy, acne affects more males than females because of the higher androgen hormones in the former sex. However, females tend to seek cures more often than boys. Acne develops in the face, upper arms, chest, and back.
For pimples to develop, the sebaceous glands produce excess sebum, which clogs within the gland follicles. The follicles then distend and rupture, releasing chemicals that injure the surrounding skin. Commonly, bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Malassezia furfur) infect the sebum sickening the skin (leading to inflammation). It, in turn, stimulates more sebum production and more inflammation. The face eventually develops full-blown acne.
Besides bacteria, multiple factors may potentiate the risk of developing acne. They include genetic factors, drugs like steroids, lithium, or anticonvulsants; certain disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome; pregnancy, wearing tight clothes, and excessive exposure to sunlight.
It appears that foods with an excessive amount of glucose increase the risk of acne. They include junk foods, chocolates, and dairy products. Inappropriate facial massage and oil-based cosmetics are likely to tamper with the outlets of the sebaceous glands potentiating their ability to block sebum from exiting. 70% of females develop acne before their menstrual flow. Anxiety and anger stimulate stress hormones. Stress hormones are associated with acne.
Acne heals with scars that may pit, heap up or form keloids. They may be hard to remove, but a visit to a dermatologist may suffice. Doctors diagnose acne by examining your skin for any lesion characteristic of pimples. In rare cases, the doctors may ask a female patient about her menstrual cycle and history to suggest increased androgen hormone levels.
Only a few patients with non-self-limiting acne require treatment. If you are one of them, a visit to your primary doctor often suffices. Following evaluation, the doctor will prescribe a drug suited for your situation. Such drugs may be topical or systemic comedolytics (peeling agents) and antibiotics. The aim is to dissolve the pimples and also treat any local infection.
Topical drugs include retinoids, clindamycin, nadifloxacin, azithromycin gel: topical benzoyl peroxide, adapalene, azelaic acid, salicylic acid gel, and dapsone. Doxycycline, minocycline, isotretinoin, and low dose oestrogen are systemic medications the doctor may use. In male patients, spironolactone may do a commendable job. Acne scars may resolve with submission, trichloroacetic acid, derma roller, micro-needling, or fractional carbon dioxide laser.
It is noteworthy to understand that your pimples may not resolve several weeks after you commence treatment. You should be patient. Paradoxically, they may worsen during therapy.
The best remedy for acne is prevention.
Change your lifestyle. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and a gentle skin wash, at least twice daily, with medicated soap and water may suffice. Always use oil-free cosmetics, lotions, and shampoos.
Do not pickle, pinch, or squeeze the pimples. Allow them to grow and burst out.
Do not sunbathe. You may worsen the acne.
Only use drugs upon a doctor’s prescription. When your pimples fail to resolve, consult your primary doctor or a dermatologist (skin specialist). Don’t go to the self-acclaimed cosmetologists. The swelling you think is a pimple may be a harbinger for a sinister disease like skin cancer.
Last but not least, follow up with your doctor if the prescribed treatment doesn’t resolve your pimples. Avoid patient nomadism – moving from one doctor to another.
In a nutshell, acne (pimples) is (are) common among teenagers. For the most part, it is self-limiting. Acne resolves by the mid-20s; however, a few people have it into adulthood. When acne brings you emotional distress, consult a doctor to prescribe some medications and be patient until it resolves. If it doesn’t, call your doctor or consult a dermatologist.