What is acne?
Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples or “zits.” This includes whiteheads, blackheads, and red, inflammed patches of skin (such as cysts). It is a common problem in adolescence, but can happen at any age group. The severity may vary from one individual to another, from minor acne pimples to very severe acne scarring. Prevention of acne is better than cure, hence understanding the causes, pathology, and options for acne treatment can help you prevent sequelae of acne.
- If the top of the plug is white, it is called a whitehead.
- If the top of the plug is dark, it is called a blackhead.
- If the plug breaks open, swelling and red bumps occur.
- Acne that is deep in your skin can cause hard, painful cysts. This is called cystic acne.
What are the causes of acne?
Acne occurs when tiny holes on the surface of the skin become clogged. These holes are called pores. Each pore opens to a follicle. A follicle contains a hair and an oil gland. When glands produce too much oil, the pores can become blocked. Dirt, bacteria, and cells build up. The blockage is called a plug or comedone. If bacteria start growing in that plug, they set up an inflammation causing redness and pus. The commonest cause is an upsurge of hormones that increases the oil production and cell multiplication of the pores.
Although it may run in families indicating a genetic trait, it may be triggered by:
- Hormonal changes related to puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy, birth control pills, or stress.
- Greasy or oily cosmetic and hair products.
- Certain drugs (such as steroids, testosterone, estrogen, and phenytoin).
- High levels of humidity and sweating.