Acne is a common skin condition characterized by plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even upper arms.
Acne commonly starts in the early teen years, when the oil glands in the body start secreting excess sebum (oil).
Although acne is usually not a serious health threat, it can be a source of significant emotional distress. Severe acne can lead to permanent scarring.
Who gets acne?
# Anyone can get acne, but it is most common in teenagers. It may be worse in boys because they have more skin oils.
# Changing hormone levels in adolescent girls and adult women two to seven days before their menstrual period starts.
# Heredity also plays a role. If your mother and father had bad acne, you may too get it.
# Some people are extra sensitive to the bacteria that are trapped in their hair follicles.
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 hormones increase in both boys and girls during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and secrete more sebum. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy; starting or stopping of birth control pills can also cause acne in women.
Another factor is heredity. Researchers believe that the tendency to develop acne can be inherited from parents.
Certain cosmetics and drugs, including androgens, are known to cause acne. Greasy cosmetics may alter the cells of the follicles and make them stick together, giving rise to a plugged pore.
Environmental factors, such as grease, pollution and dirt.
Stress and tension - related to hormonal change.
Does acne in women become worse before periods?
Yes. Due to hormonal changes during menstruation, many women get acne two to seven days before their periods. This gets heightened in teenage years as lot of hormonal changes take place at this time.
Factors that can make acne worse -
Factors that can cause an acne flare include:
o Changing hormonal levels in adolescents. In girls and adult women, before their menstrual period starts
o Oil from cosmetics, skin products or grease
o Pressure from garments, helmets, sports gear, tight elastic
o Environmental irritants, such as pollution and high humidity
o Hard scrubbing of the skin
What kind of clothes/cosmetics affect acne?
If there is constant pressure resulting from headbands, bra straps, waist bands, it could cause acne eruption in those areas of the skin.
Certain cosmetics could lead to blackhead formation in the skin. Avoid hair oils, which induce blackheads and whiteheads along your hairline. Some people are also sensitive to suntan lotions.
Does acne cause scars?
Acne, especially cystic acne, can cause scars in some people. You can help reduce scarring by not squeezing blemishes. Also, avoid scrubbing your skin. If you do get scars, treatment is available.
Some truths about acne:
► Acne most often starts at around age 11 for girls and 13 for boys.
► There is no scientific evidence to prove that junk food and greasy foods cause acne.
► There's no scientific evidence to back up the claim that oily skin or hair causes acne
► If you or your spouse had acne as a teenager, there is likelihood that your teen will experience this.
Some myths about acne:
# Eating chocolate and greasy foods-like french-fries, burgers, causes acne breakouts.
# Getting a tan helps clear up acne.
# If you scrub your face more often, your skin will be clearer and you will not get acne.
# Dirty skin causes acne;
# Stress does not cause acne.
How is acne treated?
Acne is treated by skin specialists known as dermatologists.
The goal is to cure existing lesions, prevent new lesions from erupting, prevent scarring, and minimize the emotional pressure and embarrassment caused by acne. Not only girls, but also even boys face a very traumatic experience in their adolescent period. Drugs are used to reduce several problems that play a part in causing acne:
o abnormal clumping of cells in the follicles
o increased oil production
Depending on the extent of the problem as well as the type of acne, the doctor may recommend some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and/or prescription medicines. Some may be topical (applied to the skin), and others may be oral (taken by mouth).
How should people with acne take care of their skin?
# Clean skin gently.
# Avoid frequent handling of the skin - People who squeeze, pinch, or pick the pimples risk developing scars. They should avoid rubbing and touching their skin lesions.
# Shave carefully
# Choose cosmetics carefully
# Avoid a sunburn or suntan - many of the medicines used to treat acne can make a person more prone to sunburn.
Some home remedies for acne cure -
1. Dried orange peel pounded well with water. Applied to affected acne areas like a face mask. Remove after 10 minutes.
2. Grated pieces of cucumber to be applied on the affected area.
3. Rub the pimple with a fresh clove of garlic.
4. Drinking plenty of water to flush out toxins from body. It also imparts a healthy glow to the skin
5. A paste of Fenugreek (Methi) leaves applied overnight on acne and washed off next morning helps control the problem.
What works for one person may not work for another. What is an appropriate treatment for one person may not clear another's acne. Do not get impatient! Get medical treatment if your condition gets worse.