Acne is one of the most common skin problems, affecting millions of people worldwide. It is not only an aesthetic problem, but also a very serious medical condition that can cause many complications.
It can lead to scarring and even disfigurement if not treated properly.
In this article we will discuss what is acne, the different types of acne and how to treat acne.
What is Acne?
Acne is a skin disorder that affects the pilosebaceous units (or hair follicles) of the skin. The word acne comes from the Greek word ‘akme’ which means ‘to boil’. This is because acne is characterized by the appearance of blackheads or whiteheads that appear when the oil glands become clogged. These blackheads or whiteheads are called comedones and are usually accompanied by red bumps and pustules.
Acne can be classified into two major categories – Acne vulgaris and Acne rosacea.
Acne vulgaris is the most common form of acne and is also known as simple acne. This type of acne is caused by blockage of the sebaceous gland, resulting in excessive production of sebum. This sebum is then released through the pores of the skin, where it mixes with dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria and other impurities. This mixture forms a plug that blocks the hair follicle and prevents the sebaceous oil from being released. The blocked hair follicle is left swollen and inflamed and the area becomes tender and painful.
Acne vulgarus may occur anywhere on the body, but is more common on the face, upper torso and back. This type of acne is usually mild and self-limiting. The symptoms include pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and nodules. These are usually small and contain clear fluid. They are often found on the face, neck, shoulders and upper back. If left untreated, they may lead to the formation of cysts.
Acne rosaceus is a chronic skin disease characterized by recurrent outbreaks of pimples and pustules, redness and swelling of the skin, as well as burning sensation. It is also accompanied by redness of the eyes, nose and ears.
The cause of rosacea is unknown. However, it has been associated with various factors such as stress, high levels of hormones, certain drugs and some infections.
Treatment of Acne
There are many treatment options available for acne.
The most commonly used oral medications for acne are Accutane and Isotretinoin. Accutane is a powerful drug that is prescribed by doctors to treat severe acne. Isotretinoin is used in combination with antibiotics to treat severe acne.
Topical treatments are usually used for mild cases of acne. Some of the most popular topical treatments are benzoyl peroxide, erythromycin and clindamycin.
If the acne is severe, surgical treatment may be required. This involves removal of the infected hair follicle using lasers, chemicals or surgery.
Although acne is not curable, it can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet, regular exercise, proper hygiene and avoiding over exposure to sunlight are some of the ways to prevent acne.