What is Acne?

Acne is a very common skin disorder affecting millions of individuals, especially teenagers and young adults. The disorder is Universal and no one is immune from it. This unpleasant skin disorder may present with an irritating red skin rash with pimples (pustules) on the face. Estimates indicate that more than 80% of young adults develop some degree of acne. Acne is not only isolated to the face but can also occur on the chest, arms and back. For the unfortunate individual, severe disfiguring acne can occur on both the face and back. Acne is typically seen after puberty and up to the 3rd decade of life.

Acne and cosmesis

Even a single pimple is disturbing to most individuals and can create problems with social interaction and for those with multiple lesions on the face; it can cause potentially life long loss of self esteem, depression and social isolation. When acne is not treated, the disorder can lead to scars and disfigurement of the face. In the latter stages, acne is difficult to treat and scars are likely. Over the past 2 decades, newer and more effective drugs have become available to treat acne.

Myths about acne

- acne is due to poor facial hygiene
- acne is acquired from environmental pollution
- Acne has no genetic component
- Spicy foods can cure acne
- Acne is best treated with herbal medications and nutrients
- Acne is caused by physical and emotional stress
- The more expensive the cream/soap, the more effective is the treatment

Why does acne occur?

We all have hair follicles on our body. These hair follicles also contain some glands which produce oil which lubricates our skin. This oil is secreted from skin pores at a constant rate. Sometimes, these pores can become plugged by either dead skin cells or other debris. Thus the oil continues to accumulate and the pores enlarge, eventually growing into a small pimple (when you squeeze your pimple, it is this oil which is released). When these pimples grow to a certain size, they become conspicuous on the face and may even rupture.

Once the pores are plugged, the bacteria that normally live on the skin start to grow in the pores and mix with the oil. This then results in redness and skin irritation.

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