diseases did 860 title Acne

Diseases

Acne

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What is Acne?


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Acne


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Acne (also known as pimples) is a common condition of the skin in which pores on the face, neck, chest or back become plugged and the surrounding skin becomes red and inflamed. There are different types of acne, including blackheads and whiteheads (also called comedones). In severe cases, red bumps called pustules or cysts can also develop.

Adolescents

Many people experience acne during their teenage years due to the changes that occur during puberty. Hormone changes lead to an increase in the production of sebum by the sebaceous glands.

 

Children

Although acne is rare in children, acne and acneiform (acne-like) lesions can occur in infants. A young infant may have an acne eruption around the nose or cheeks. This is usually caused by hormonal changes that occurred as the baby was developing, and the eruption typically clears in a few weeks without acne medicine treatment. Infantile acne usually appears as rash-like comedones and papules on the face.

The following is a picture of a young infant with acne:

Acne

There are various factors that may lead to worsening of acne, including medications, cosmetics and underlying medical conditions. Fortunately, there are many effective remedy treatments for acne.

Who gets Acne?

Acne affects at least 85% of the population at some time during their lives. In its various forms of severity, acne is so common that it is sometimes considered a normal process of development. People aged 15 to 25 years are most likely to suffer from acne.


Adolescents

Approximately 95-100% of males and 83-85% of girls aged 16-17 years suffer from acne. The periods between 14 and 17 years of age in girls, and 16 and 19 years of age in boys, are the most severe stages of acne.


Adults

Although acne usually clears up by early adulthood, some people may experience this problem for the first time when they reach middle age. During the adult years, around 10-20% of adults may continue to experience some degree of acne. However, after adolescence the rates of acne decline with age.

Predisposing Factors

What causes acne?

There are many misconceptions about what causes acne. It is not caused by having dirty skin or by eating the wrong types of foods. Actually, it is caused by the actions of the body’s hormones, which stimulate glands in the skin to produce more oil. Pores in the skin become plugged with an overabundance of normal skin cells known as keratinocytes. These cells join a fatty substance called sebum to create a plug in the follicle. The increase in fatty sebum provides an environment which encourages overgrowth of Propionobacterium acnes, a normal bacteria that lives on the skin. Bacteria growing in the blocked pores can lead to redness, swelling, and pus-filled bumps. This produces the skin lesion commonly known as pimples.


Adolescence

Hormonal changes in the adolescent body, affect the glands and the chemical substances they produce. During adolescence, the sebaceous glands that produce sebum are enlarged. This is due to the action of androgens.


Hormonal influences

In most people with acne, the amount of androgen hormones circulating in the bloodstream is normal, but the androgens have a profound effect because the sebaceous glands are highly sensitive to them.

In rarer cases, the amount of androgens is excessive due to a disorder such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is a disorder in women that may cause acne. PCOS is characterized by an irregular menstrual cycle, hirsutism, acne, ovarian cysts, bodily resistance to the normal effects of insulin, and the development of dark velvety skin, usually in the neck and armpits, known as acanthosis nigricans.


Medications

As well as hormonal changes, acne can also be caused by medications and other substances that come in contact with the skin. Medications that can contribute to the formation of acne lesions include:

  • Androgens
  • Azathioprine
  • Barbiturates
  • Bromides
  • Corticosteroids
  • Cyclosporin
  • Isoniazid
  • Lithium
  • Phenytoin


Physical factors

Oil-based cosmetics can enhance the growing environment for acne-producing bacteria. Certain hair dyes and products for the skin can make existing skin lesions worse. Excessive moisture, from humid air or perspiration, can also worsen acne lesions. Excess scrubbing of acne can aggravate the condition by promoting inflammation. Rubbing from helmets, shoulder pads, turtlenecks, and bra straps can trigger or worsen acne.

Progression

Acne tends to resolve when we reach the later adult years, as androgen levels decline. However, it may persist into adult life, or develop for the first time in adulthood. About twelve percent of women and five percent of men at the age of 25 still have acne. Adolescent acne predominantly affects men, in contrast to acne developing in later adult life, which predominantly affects women.

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Article Dates:

calendar icon Created: 19/8/2006 calendar icon Modified: 3/2/2009 calendar icon Reviewed: 29/9/2007